Amusement Park Survival Guide
How to have amusement park fun and avoid injury.
Mishaps at amusement parks may put some nagging doubts into the
minds of parents planning a day of family fun. Are those thrilling rides
perhaps a little too thrilling?
If news reports of amusement park accidents cast a shadow over
your summer plans, there are steps you can take to make sure those scary rides
don't get too scary. WebMD spoke to experts for tips to help make your
amusement park visit safe and fun.
Children under 13 account for half of all ride-related injuries
reported to state agencies, according to Kathy Fackler, who is the president of
Saferparks, a California-based nonprofit organization. A huge mistake parents
can make is letting children go on rides that aren't appropriate for their
size. "Never try to bully your child's way onto a ride that has a height
limit that's too high for them," Fackler tells WebMD.
Inspect Rides Yourself
Ride structure -- from restraints to size -- vary wildly, and
you should examine a ride yourself to determine how safe it is for your child.
"Just because there is a sign that says that a kid can go on a ride doesn't
mean that the ride is safe for them," Fackler says.
It may put your mind at ease to know that the risk of injury is
fairly low. One in 124,000 amusement park rides in the U.S. results in an
injury that requires medical attention, according to an article that was
published in the January 2002 issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
In addition, the risk of an injury that requires hospitalization is only one in
15 million rides.
Containment failures -- or when children get ejected from a
ride -- are likely the most troubling accidents, because the potential
consequences are huge. "In terms of the most common injuries, you will
probably see more tripping and falling in and out of rides, and fingers getting
pinched in restraints," says Fackler. "But containment failure is what
may cost your child their life."
Her advice? Take a close look at the restraints, regardless of
the size of the ride. Some have very well-designed restraints, while others
have almost nothing at all. Make sure the restraints fit closely against your
children, and always remind children to hold on, even on a ride with quality
restraints. If a ride doesn't look like it has adequate restraints, skip
"Teach your kids about ride safety in the same patient,
repetitive way that you teach traffic safety or water safety, but don't trust
them to protect themselves when they are young," says Fackler. Instead,
chaperone your kids to get to know how they cope with scarier rides, and handle
Limit the Number of Extreme Rides You Go On
You should also limit the number of thrill rides you or your
kids go on, and take breaks between rides. Fackler says there is even research
that shows that going on rides repetitively can put you at higher risk for