Experts warn about dangers of popular mermaid tail accessories - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Experts warn about dangers of popular mermaid tail accessories

In the summer of 2016, mermaid tails are all the rage, and some big-name retailers are selling them. (Source: WMBF News) In the summer of 2016, mermaid tails are all the rage, and some big-name retailers are selling them. (Source: WMBF News)
You can order the popular poolside accessory fins on Amazon, where prices range from around $20 up to around $125.  (Source: WMBF News) You can order the popular poolside accessory fins on Amazon, where prices range from around $20 up to around $125. (Source: WMBF News)
Ripley's Aquarium's mermaids spend months training before setting fin in the tank. (Source: WMBF News) Ripley's Aquarium's mermaids spend months training before setting fin in the tank. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - We are learning why parents may want to think twice about a popular toy trend this summer, as it could be dangerous.

In the summer of 2016, mermaid tails are all the rage, and some big-name retailers are selling them. But experts say parents should put some serious thought into whether a child has the swim skill level to safely wear one.

What little girl doesn't want to be like Ariel? Many who visit Myrtle Beach visit the Ripley’s Aquarium, and watch the Ripley’s Mermaid show. It’s something little girls dream about, and retailers are giving that dream life.

You can order the popular poolside accessory fins on Amazon, where prices range from around $20 up to around $125. Many come with a mono-fin and a sparkly suit to put over top of it.

"You don't have feet all the sudden,” explained Michelle Barnhill, Ripley’s Aquarium Director of Dive Safety. “And so your legs are together and when you want to try standing up, it's very difficult because you do have a fin." Michelle Barnhill said parents should never, ever let a child alone in a pool with one on. "You have to make sure your child is a strong swimmer, is very familiar with the water, you keep it nice and shallow, and always have parental supervision," she said.

Barnhill gave a warning for parents considering taking one to the beach: "Definitely [don't] recommend using mermaid tail in open water, it's definitely a pool activity. With the ocean you have the currents, you have the different waves, it's just not a safe activity."

There is another solution if a little girl or boy decides they are tired of living like a human with feet: "Mermaid camps here at the aquarium,” Barnhill said. “We hold every Tuesdays and Thursdays. We have our Ripley's Mermaids actually take the kids to a pool in a safe location. We have the kids go through a swim test to make sure they are strong swimmers. And they are one-on-one with the Ripley's Mermaids."

There are also certified lifeguards on hand.

As for the mermaids themselves, they’re a pretty aqua-savvy group. They go through six months of training before they’re allowed in the tank.

“They are all excellent swimmers,” Barnhill added. “They all go through lots and lots of training including first aid, CPR, we do water rescues, in-service training. Anytime they’re in the water, we have plenty of spotters. We also have divers ready to go just in case we have any problems. But there is two divers watching every single dive show.”

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