Tips for a Safe Summer Amusement Season
When you’re hurtling toward the ground from hundreds of feet in the air -– or spinning so fast your sunglasses and flip flops fly off — the possibility of danger is a big part of what makes the experience fun.
But each year, more than 4,000 American children are injured on amusement rides.
Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found that more than 70 percent of the injuries occur from May through September, which means that more than 20 injuries a day happen during these warm-weather months.
“The rides like to push what people think is fun,” says Susan E. Rzucidlo, pediatric trauma and injury prevention program manager at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. “The most important thing is just following the rules.”
The head and neck were the most frequently injured body parts, followed by arms and legs. The most common types of injuries were soft tissue, strains, sprains, cuts and broken bones.
“You put your arms out and a finger or hand gets caught in something,” Rzucidlo said. “Some of it is the operators and how they are trained, but some of it is the behavior of riders.”
Injuries from smaller amusement rides located in malls, stores, restaurants and arcades tend to get less attention than those that occur at larger amusement parks. But kiddie rides designed for the 4-and-younger crowd account for nearly a quarter of all ride injuries. This includes inflatable attractions such as bounces and slides.
While portable carnival rides are subject to federal safety regulations, rides at fixed locations such as amusement parks are regulated subject to state law.
Here are some tips for staying safe while you have fun:
- Check height and weight restrictions for rides.
- Don’t coax children onto a ride they are unsure about or too small for. “Think about the type of ride and the age of the child,” Rzucidlo said. “It’s not that (ride operators) don’t want them to have fun, but a child may not sit still or a harness may not be designed for their size.”
- Follow the rules and regulations for each ride. Model appropriate behavior for children.
- Buckle up. Keep hands and feet inside the ride at all times. Never get off a moving ride. Wear appropriate clothing.
- Never leave children unattended. Observe them while they are on rides and always walk them to and from rides.
- Do not allow children to go on a mall ride if it is over a hard, unpadded surface or if it does not offer a child restraint such as a seat belt.
- Plan for what you will do if you get separated in an amusement park.
Article by Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center