By: Donna Devita
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The kids are out of school, which means water parks across the country are back in business. These slippery attractions are known for more than just waterslides and lazy rivers…they’re also known for causing terrible injuries and tragic fatalities.
Worst Waterpark Disasters
Waterparks are full of fun and simultaneous danger. Between flukes in the rides, poor judgment, and the typical dangers of recreational water activities, visitors are suspect to a number of hazards the moment they set foot in the park:
- In 2000, a six-year-old Connecticut boy riding a water ride on Lake Compounce was killed after his inner tube flipped over and out of sight from the lifeguards.
- Back in 1997, a group of teens attempted to break the record for most people on a waterslide, resulting in a slide collapse that killed one teen and injured 30 others in Concord, California.
- A 10-year-old in Kansas took only one ride on the tallest water park slide in the world in 2016. Due to hidden unsafe conditions of the ride, the boy was horrifically killed by decapitation after flipping off the inner tube on his way down the slide.
- An indoor water park in Indianapolis saw a terrible tragedy when they pulled a 7-year-old boy from a pool who had drowned, estimating her was under water for over 90 seconds before spotted by lifeguards.
Most Dangerous Waterpark Attractions
Thankfully, millions of people walk out of waterparks alive every year without becoming victims of fatal accidents such as these. However, these popular rides at the waterpark still spark extreme concern when it comes to the safety of visitors:
- Waterslides: According to Safeparks.org, waterslides are the number one cause of injury at the waterpark. Regardless of whether the slide involves a tube, mat, or just your body, the high speed and forceful impact these rides can endure set visitors up for the possibility of serious and permanent injuries.
- Wave-pools: Wave pools provide the realistic feeling of being in the ocean, which is not always the safest place to swim! Young swimmers are particularly at risk in these types of pools, often filled with large tubes and dangerous wave-like conditions that make it difficult for lifeguards to see drowning or near-drowning swimmers.
- Water Structures and Guns: Even the water playgrounds built for young visitors can be extremely dangerous. Spray guns for water fights have been known for causing respiratory damage if directly inhaled or serious eye injuries such as the one this young boy sustained at a Carnival Cruise ship waterpark. Kids can also easily slip off structures when climbing being that water is constantly spraying everywhere!
Common Waterpark Injuries
According to the World Waterpark Association, there were an estimated 1,300 waterparks in North America back in 2015, with an estimated 85 million visitors a year- that’s a lot of chances for injuries to occur. Waterpark injuries range from minor to serious depending on the accident, but most can be prevented with proper supervision and safety precautions:
- Cuts, abrasions, or lacerations
- Head, neck, or spinal cord injuries
- Groin injuries from slides or riding devices
- Internal water damage (water forcefully entering into the body)
- Slip and falls
- Broken bones of fractures
- Muscle strains or sprains
- Secondary drowning or drowning
Waterpark injuries can be the result of faulty equipment, poorly kept walkways, reckless behavior, or lack of lifeguard/parental supervision. Staying alert at all times for signs of danger at the waterpark is critical if you want to maintain a fun-filled day in the sun.
Horrifying Water Illnesses
A study conducted by the University of Michigan showed nearly 10,000 people contract infections from waterparks every year. These infections can be picked up by swallowing contaminated water, breathing in contaminated mist, or even from evaporated contaminated water settling on your skin. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that recreational water illnesses (RWI) often lead to…
- Skin irritations and infections
- Respiratory issues
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Eyes irritation and infections
- Neurological concerns
- Open wound infections
Diarrhea is the most common (and unpleasant) result of coming in contact with a RWI at a waterpark, caused by bacteria such as norovirus, Crypto, Shigella, Giardia, and E. coli living and breeding in the water…yuck!
Preventing Waterpark Injuries and Illnesses
Before entering any waterpark this summer, parents should take the necessary time to prepare their kids and teens for the various dangers and hazards they could encounter. Care2 has some excellent safety tips you can put into action this summer on your next waterpark trip:
- Set Ground Rules: Address any concerns that could occur with your kids prior to entering the park for the day. Check in often with older teens and have a pre-set emergency plan in the case something goes wrong.
- Watch the kids: Always supervise children on any device or ride. Children who cannot swim should not be allowed to go down slides or play near pools without proper a life vest.
- Follow the rules: Regulations are there for a reason: to prevent injuries and fatalities. Don’t test the equipment or boundaries of the rides just for fun or you could be putting your life and the others around you at risk.
- Wear swim shoes: Foot injuries and lacerations are very common at the waterpark, which can lead to infection if bacteria enters the wound. Swim shoes are a great preventive measure to keep your feet healthy while still enjoying the water.
- Slather on the sunscreen: The constant wetness of waterparks can make it difficult to keep up with sunscreen applications but creating an application schedule will help you avoid unnecessary blistering sunburns.
- Use the lifeguards: Make sure you take notice of how many lifeguards are on staff and where they are located. This information will be crucial to know in the case of an emergency.
- Avoid overcrowding: Overcrowding on any ride can result in drownings or being thrown from a slide or tube. Follow the number allotted for each ride and avoid bringing smaller children into overcrowded pools.
- Don’t risk it: If a waterpark near you has bad reviews or poor safety policies, you don’t have to go. Only go to attractions with positive safety reviews to avoid becoming another injury on their list.
- Shower before you swim: Just because a waterpark is full of chlorinated water, doesn’t mean the water is clean. Visitors can help keep waterparks sanitary by showering or rinsing off before entering the rides to prevent the spread of illnesses in the water.
If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury or illness due to the negligence of another, Jacobs & Wallace is here to help. Our expert team of personal injury attorneys will provide a free consultation to evaluate your case and fight for the compensation you deserve as a result of any damages suffered.