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Old 23-12-2014, 08:57   #1
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International Orange? Safety Yellow?

So what is the best color for use at sea? International Orange color standards have existed for some time for use in Engineering and Aerospace.

Life rafts, for example, come in a variety of colors tending to orange/red.

Then you have High-visibility Clothings standards that tend to favor fluorescent yellow, as in the hood on your weather gear">foul weather gear.

So what gives with the difference in standards?

Is it that International Orange standards are from a time before colorfast fluorescent dyes and pigments were available and the engineering community is just stuck in it's ways, while standards for personal protection are constantly updated?

Or is it that standards for personal protect reflect conditions on shore and don't really reflect the realities at sea?
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Old 23-12-2014, 09:26   #2
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

An interesting topic. I don't have the answers for you, but if you find them elsewhere I hope you will post your findings here.

I think your suspicions about the slowness of standards adoption or change are good.

And your point about colorfast pigments and dyes too.

You did not mention your specific desire or need or item you are concerned or interested in coloring or painting, if you have one. Life raft? Hull? Clothing?

That photo of Karl Lagerfeld in the safety vest is cool, good public safety campaign image.

I prefer the fluorescent yellow or bright yellow for high visibility. I look for that in foul weather gear. On even cloudy days they pop!

I also like to see light red (or intl orange) hulled boats. Sometimes seen in boats used in high latitudes, arctic or Antarctica.
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Old 23-12-2014, 09:37   #3
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

Black is the new orange (red)
In some circumstances bright colours just don't show up, so mixed patterns of different colours like black and orange give the best result.
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Old 23-12-2014, 09:56   #4
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

All past research I have read plus anecdotal reports from SAR personnel recommends international orange for visibility on the water. Second is a bright red.
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Old 23-12-2014, 10:01   #5
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TeddyDiver View Post
Black is the new orange (red)
In some circumstances bright colours just don't show up, so mixed patterns of different colours like black and orange give the best result.
Could you elaborate? I can't think of many situations where black would be more visible than a bright color. Certainly on the ocean an international orange life raft would show up much more than black.

I red an article by a crew member from a SAR plane who mentioned a case on a routine training patrol when they were not really looking for anything but spotted a single, orange life jacket on the ocean from several thousand feet. His point was the only color to chose for visibility on the ocean was international orange.
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Old 23-12-2014, 10:03   #6
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

Random racing crew images.
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Old 23-12-2014, 10:03   #7
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

I have bright yellow Henri Loyld foulies. However, I've been told that sharks are attracted to bright yellow (oh dear!)

So there may be a reason - however, i think I will contiue with the yellow - since If I go overboard- the yellow is much easier to see than black or brown or red against the sea water.
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Old 23-12-2014, 10:10   #8
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

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Old 23-12-2014, 10:18   #9
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

I think that the pigment advances have much to do with it. Many of these newer safety colors were just not available in the past.

Fire trucks painted red used to be universal, but now many are painted in flourescent yellow, being much more visible. I think likely because red pigments were available long ago and are available from sources in nature.

Best color I think depends on were being used. The fluorescent yellows and greens are best at night I think, where orange is a darker hue and better used in daylight.

Reflective materials really add to night time visibility.
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Old 24-12-2014, 09:20   #10
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

I do have some experience on this topic. A definition for 'color' is: 'light' reflected off an object. Obviously if there is no light, there is no color. Bright yellow, especially neon/fluorescent yellow will have the highest visibility under most lighting conditions. Black and bright yellow have the highest contrast between two colors. The colors of the sea and the sky will vary from shades of blue, grey and black, depending on the lighting conditions, making bright fluorescent yellow the most visible color under most lighting condition at sea.
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Old 24-12-2014, 18:10   #11
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

From the Transport Canada web site. Although they don't say which is the most visible they do say this: "Lifejackets come only in red, orange and yellow so you are much more visible while in water."

They have a picture of a boy in a lifejacket, yellow with red banding. Looks very visible to me although how much of the banding would show when in the water I'm not sure.
https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafet...ation-1324.htm

I think that reflective tape is also extremely important. Personally I have had bright yellow sailing jacket and it seemed to be very visible but would have needed reflective tape to be seen well at night.
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Old 24-12-2014, 18:15   #12
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

I see that in the US many other colors are available.
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Old 24-12-2014, 21:27   #13
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

Visibility wise I'm fairly certain that fluorescent green (that bright yellow-green) color is the most visible. And of course SOLAS grade reflective tape is KEY.

Though one other factor in this equation, yet to be mentioned, is, what color(s) stand out the best when viewed through Night Vision (NVG) & Thermal gear? As NVG's aren't too uncommon on cruising boats anymore, & Thermal's definitely making inroads into that market as well.
Though, obviously, Professional SAR tends to have both, more often than not.

I've little doubt that with a little Googlefu, & if someone wants to write a few letters to Uncle Sam (Freedom of Information Act). That a lot of the studies on this topic can be had, gratis. Although "studies" can be made to say whatever you want them to.
That said, there's little question that Yellow IS brighter once the Sun sets, than is Red, or Orange.

On certain "organizations" sticking with Red, or Orange, I'm thinking that a lot of that has to do with tradition.


NOTE:
It's worth buying some of the SOLAS grade reflective tape, & putting it in strategic locations.
- Several 350 degree wraps of the mast, at varying heights.
- Spreader tops - for Helos, & searchlights on Large vessels (to ascertain if their radar contact is real, or to find you for a rescue).
- Some patches on your main hull, & on your dinghy.
- On your most often used sails, & also storm sails.
- The flag, pole, & horse shoe of you MOB gear - the Flag being key.

The tape can help others to see you, or You to see "you" if your anchor decides to misbehave while you're ashore for dinner. Or you forget to leave on an anchor light/yours burns out.

- Other wise ideas for placement of said tape are welcomed.


PS: **Affix a few small patches of laminated sail cloth to your sail(s), & Glue the tape to that, given that the tape won't say on Dacron or Nylon.**
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Old 24-12-2014, 22:31   #14
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

FYI: There's a reason that in many locales, they painted Fire Trucks the Yellow/Green color which I mention above. Visibility.
Although due to public pressure, red made a come back. Or so I was told by a gent in a big city department during that time period, plus a decade on either side of it.


Also, I went a bit OT on the SOLAS tape thing, as it saved my boat once, literally. As can be read here Reflective tape experience . A topic which I didn't see until after I was long done typing here.
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Old 25-12-2014, 00:33   #15
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Re: International Orange? Safety Yellow?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Could you elaborate? I can't think of many situations where black would be more visible than a bright color. Certainly on the ocean an international orange life raft would show up much more than black.
In most circumstances when SAR operations are on (daylight) you are right. But at night against the horizont black is the best. Sometimes also against the rising and setting sunlight. So pretty much 1/2 of the time..
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