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Amusement Park Survival Guide

How to have amusement park fun and avoid injury.

Dress Smart

Bring comfortable clothing and shoes, says James Hubbard, MD, MPH, who is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Family Doctor: A Magazine That Makes Housecalls. Wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet during rides. "Remember that you are spending the day around industrial machinery," says Fackler. This means you should put your hair up, and avoid wearing anything dangly -- scarves, drawstrings, or long necklaces, for example. Dress in light-colored clothing to avoid overheating.

Be Careful on Water Rides

Be especially careful on water rides, which aren't regulated at the federal level. You need to teach children not to stop in the middle of a slide, for example, which may cause serious neck injuries, says Fackler. Your child should also be big enough to maintain all of the necessary positions recommended for a ride. As a general rule, be conservative when you are unsure if a ride is safe.

Bring a First Aid Kit

It's not uncommon for people, especially younger kids, to take a fall at an amusement park. Tell your kids not to run, and if you're armed with a first aid kit, you will be able to manage minor cuts and bruises. Pack any medications, or emergency supplies -- say, for a kid with an allergy or chronic ailment -- and carry the kit with you in the park.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and in between going on rides. "If the temperature is above 90 degrees and the humidity is above 35%, it is difficult for your body to get rid of heat," says Hubbard. This makes hydration especially important. "Children tend to sweat a little less than adults, and they produce more heat. Make sure your child is hydrated before they go out," says Hubbard. Have your children drink liquids all day long, but avoid caffeinated and high-calorie beverages, and opt for water or sports drinks instead.

Beware of Bugs

Make sure you use mosquito repellent, especially in the evenings. Put it on your clothing for extra protection.

Use Sunscreen, and Avoid Excessive Exposure to the Sun

It's very important that you take precautions if you're going to visit an amusement park when it is very sunny or hot. Sunscreen is not recommended for children under 6 months, and neither is direct sunlight. Instead, Hubbard recommends that you keep young children and babies in the shade. Most sun damage occurs before the age of 18. Use sunscreen -- SP15 or greater -- and apply it about 30 minutes before going in direct sunlight, and then about every two hours after that. Sunscreen should be used even on cloudy days. "Keep clothing light, wear a cap, and don't forget the sunglasses," says Hubbard, who is based in Colorado Springs, Colo. "Make sure they are 99 to 100% broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB light. Staying out in the sun for even 15 minutes can cause a burn." Try to schedule your time so that you are out of the sun between the hours of most intense sunlight -- 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- when lines for rides tend to be longer anyway.

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