Clothes as a Flotation Aid

Many people drown because of accidental falls into water, often wearing clothes. Current research recommends not removing clothing in open water situations. Clothing assists in maintaining body temperature and can provide assistance with buoyancy.

Air trapped in clothes may initially assist buoyancy on sudden immersion in water.

Clothing may be used to trap air to assist flotation, although this will reduces the insulation effect.


Teaching Tips and Class Management

  1. It would be valuable for students to see the effects of water on clothes by placing items of clothing in the water and observing their buoyancy over time. This will enable students to observe that some everyday clothing will float initially before submerging, whereas sports shoes may remain on the surface.
  2. Enable students to experience the buoyancy effects of clothes, both under initial immersion and when trapping air in clothes.
  3. Air can be trapped in clothes by lying on back, and using top to scoop and trap air, creating an air bubble to aid flotation.
  4. Question students to find out what they discovered about the effects of wearing clothes on their ability to float. Students should notice a difference in their ability to float

Drowning Prevention Tip.

It is recommended to keep clothing on to help prevent hypothermia.