19 December 2015
CHOICE and NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe are warning consumers of the potential dangers of mermaid tails, a water play product that binds a child's legs and acts as a flipper so the child can swim like a mermaid.
A video from the United States https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFD2W3G4qAs shows a little girl getting stuck upside down in her family's backyard pool when using her mermaid tail for the first time, before being rescued by her mother.
Mr Stowe said the products usually come with an age recommendation of six years plus, advice that the child needs to be a good swimmer, must be supervised and may require a lesson in how to use the tail, along with a warning that the tails are for use in swimming pools of a certain depth and not shallow water.
The products range in price from around $20 to $700 and are sold online through local and international retailers as well as retail outlets.
"It's worth noting these toys are not recommended for children under six years of age and require strict adult supervision," CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey said.
"These aquatic toys could present a risk for a young child, particularly if they are not a strong swimmer. The video is quite harrowing and should serve as a timely reminder to all parents to be vigilant about water safety." Mr Stowe and Mr Godfrey urged consumers to choose carefully before buying a mermaid tail this Christmas.
"Even if your child is a strong swimmer, they may get into difficulty underwater when wearing one of these toys," they said.
The latest annual Royal Life Saving Society drowning report showed 90 or 34 percent of the 266 Australian drowning fatalities in 2013/14 occurred in NSW.
Children aged under five account for the largest number of drowning deaths in swimming pools, particularly home swimming pools – 14 children from that age group lost their lives through swimming pool drowning in 2013/14.
Further advice on how to prevent drowning is available on the Royal Life Saving Society website www.royallifesaving.com.au.