If your plans for the rest of the summer involve a visit to an amusement park, you’re not alone. Every year in the United States alone, about 290 million people visit amusement parks, and they enjoy more than 1.5 billion rides. (It gives me whiplash just thinking about it!)
Given those statistics, it’s amazing that the injury rate is as low as it is. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 12,500 people annually are injured severely enough to be treated in a hospital emergency room. Most of the injuries–60%–are caused by mechanical amusement rides (such as rollercoasters), while the remaining injuries are caused by inflatable amusement devices (such as bouncy houses) and waterslides.
While the majority of the injuries are relatively minor, some are catastrophic or even fatal. The most serious injuries happen to children, and they occur when a child falls or is thrown from a ride. But the most common injuries are due to impacts and body strains caused by the ride’s normal motion, including whiplash or being thrown against part of the seat or carrier during the regular course of the ride. Other injuries include:
- falls during loading or unloading;
- being hit or pinched between moving parts;
- seizures or other neurologic symptoms;
- ejection from the seat or carriage;
- unintended collision.
It sounds like a lot of risk, but there’s no reason to avoid the fun. There are ways to stay safer during your visit to an amusement park.
Tips for Staying Safe
- Observe and obey the listed age, height, weight, and health restrictions. Those are posted for a reason, based on physics and ride construction. Don’t think that just because your child is “mature” that he or she will physically be able to handle a ride.
- Keep hands, arms, legs, and feet inside the ride at all times.
- Remain seated in the ride until it comes to a complete stop–many injuries occur after the ride is over.
- Never force anyone–especially children–to ride if they don’t want to.
- Don’t assume your child will be safe on a ride simply because the ride operator says it’s okay–use your own judgment about what looks and feels safe. There are no mandatory federal safety standards or regulatory oversight of amusement rides.
- Explain ride regulations to your child.
- Tell children to hold on tightly with both hands. Solid metal lap bars and handholds are part of the safety equipment. Many kids raised in the era of five-point car seat restraint systems don’t know that holding on is important.
- Don’t put your child on a ride he or she has outgrown. Maximum height and weight limits are just as important as minimum limits.
- Teach small children what to do if they get separated from you. Point out uniformed park employees so that they know who is in charge of finding “lost parents.” Choose an obvious landmark as a meeting place.
- Remember that just because you may be in a place your child might view as “magic,” rides are heavy machinery, and water parks have very real drowning risks. Let your child enjoy the day…even if it means staying hyper vigilant yourself.
To read more about amusement park safety, visit SaferParks.org
If you have been seriously injured at an amusement park and want to explore your legal, please feel free to call one of the experienced lawyers at HensonFuerst Attorneys at 1-800-4-LAWMED, or visit our website at LawMed.com. Life Doesn’t Wait.