By: Donna Devita
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Amusement Park Ride Dangers
Adventurous children love amusement park and carnival rides, but these thrills do not come without risk…
- An accident on a swing ride in Norwalk left 13 children injured back in 2013. The ride apparently lost power, causing the children to forcefully fall to the ground, some sustaining serious injuries from the impact.
- In 2016, six children were injured on a ride in New London after experiencing some type of electric shock. The riders suffered minor injuries, such as metal burns on their hands from the exit railings on the ride.
With only one month of summer left to go, Connecticut families may be trying to squeeze in one last amusement park trip or a visit to the county fair. As exciting as these attractions can be, parents should be well aware of the dangers to help prevent their children from ruining the remainder of their school break with unnecessary ride-related injuries.
Rides Injure Thousands of Children Every Year!
In a study performed by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, amusement park rides contribute to an average of 4,423 pediatric injuries every year. At least 70% of these injuries take place between the months of May and September, precisely when families and children are out of school and ready for fun.
Children are already at a higher risk for injuries on rides because of their lack of coordination, body control, and underdeveloped anatomies. Reports show the most common injuries children sustain on rides are soft tissue related and affect the head/face. Other injuries sustained range from minor to severe depending on the ride and the cause:
- bumps and bruises
- sprains and strains
- whiplash (minor)
- whiplash (major)
- fractures and broken bones
- traumatic brain injury
- neck and spinal cord injury
- near-drowning (water rides)
Because amusement park and carnival rides are regulated on a state level, and there is no national registry used to track the frequency and severity of ride injuries, experts believe accidents are most likely underreported. Sadly, serious injuries and fatalities on rides are much more likely to occur without the proper data to manage and troubleshoot similar incidents.
Most Dangerous Rides For Kids
Not all rides are safe just because they are present in the amusement park. Some rides have long-standing reputations for posing more danger to your kids than others, including features such as fast speeds, jerky movements, and unsafe or lack of safety belts and padding. In an article posted by the Huffington Post examining ride fatalities over a ten-year span, these rides were considered the most deadly and dangerous:
- rollercoasters (27.6%)
- ferris wheels, gondolas, cable rides (20.7%)
- water rides (15.3%)
- spinning rides (13.6%)
Other rides that have been known for causing injuries are swing rides, bumper cars, and kiddie attractions where kids direct their own experiences, such as inflatable rides and carpet slides.
How Kids Are Getting Hurt
According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), riders only have a 1 in 16 million chance of getting seriously injured on an amusement park ride- what about non-serious injuries? There is a crucial lack of data examining the number of non-serious or ‘minor’ injuries children sustain on rides. These accidents may not be life-threatening, but injuries to children of any kind on a ride made for enjoyment are unacceptable and preventable using cautionary measures.
Kids can get hurt on amusement park rides in a number of different ways, the most common highlighted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital:
- Falls (31.7% of injuries): falling on a ride, in a ride, or against a ride
- Hit While Riding (17.7% of injuries): being hit by something while riding a ride or hitting a body part on a ride
- Catching (7.2% of injuries): catching clothing or a body part on a ride component
- Entering/Exiting (6.3% of injuries): injuries when getting on or off the ride
- Hit By Ride (2.6% of injuries): being struck by a moving or stationary ride
Amusement parks are full of other tripping and falling hazards that can also pose a risk for injury to children, particularly younger ones who are looking up at the rides and not where they are going: lines, food/trash debris, other kids, spills, and strollers are all common hazards parents should help their children avoid.
Keep CT Kids Safe On Rides
Staying away from amusement parks or carnivals completely is the best way to avoid ride-related injuries…but it’s surely not as fun. You don’t have to be afraid to take your kids on rides this summer as long as you are keeping safety in mind before jumping on.
IAAPA suggests parents follow these amusement ride safety tips to help children and teens avoid unnecessary injuries during their visit:
- Take listed ride restrictions seriously (age, height, weight, and health conditions).
- Review safety rules on the ride to make sure your child understands if they are going alone or even with adult supervision.
- Keep arms, hands, legs, and feet inside the ride at all times.
- Don’t allow your children to board the ride with loose articles of clothing or loose items.
- Remain seated in the ride until it comes to a stop and you are asked to exit.
- Avoid rides that do not have seatbelts (some kiddie rides do not!).
- Always use the safety belts or bars. If your child does not fit securely, don’t allow them to ride.
- Review safety instructions with your children before they ride.
- Never force a child to ride a ride they are not emotionally ready for.
- If you see unsafe behaviors or riding conditions on a ride, report it. You wouldn’t want to put your child on a ride that had known safety concerns, but no one spoke up.
Ride Regulations Across America
If you are planning to visit an amusement park or fair out-of-state, always do your research first. Amusement parks and carnivals have not been federally regulated since the 1980’s after the Consumer Product Safety Commission passed along the responsibility to the states. IAAPA reports that Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah all do not regulate amusement parks, cautioning riders to beware if attending parks in these states.
Connecticut amusement rides are regulated by the Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection. Rides in CT are expected to apply for the proper license and permits before they begin operations in order to promote safety for their guests. If you want to look up a particular ride, you can visit the online portal to verify if a ride is up to date with their registrations, permits, and licensing requirements.
Ride Injuries Are Preventable
There is no excuse for a known faulty or dangerous ride. If parks are aware that a ride is causing harm to their guests, steps should be taken to fix or shut down the ride regardless of the financial impact. If your child was injured on an amusement park or carnival ride due to negligence, you may be eligible for compensation for damages suffered. Jacobs & Wallace is here to fight for your family’s right to safety at amusement parks. Our dedicated team will provide a free case evaluation to determine what options for justice are available for your traumatic accident.