Finding Safety at Amusement Parks - A Guide to Having Fun & Staying Out of Harm's Way

Written by Nicole Kohn  |  05. August 2013

Visiting an amusement park is a great way to spend a summer day, even though waiting on those endless lines can be a bit of a hassle. But the thing you must always remember is that the rules and safety guidelines are there for your well being. It is up to you to follow those rules and keep you and the people you are with safe and out of harms way. Recently, a woman died on the Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas. It is believed that her death was caused by faulty safety equipment.
For amusement parks, safety is the number one priority. Safety is a partnership between the park and the patrons that are visiting. A majority of the injuries that occur at amusement parks are due to guests not following the ride safety guidelines - including the important health restrictions to follow before getting on the ride.  
According the the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), nearly 300 million people visit the approximately 400 amusement parks in the United States annually. 61 of the 1,415 ride-related injuries reported in 2011 by the National Safety Council, or less than 5 percent of all ride injuries, were considered serious, requiring some form of overnight hospitalization.
The likelihood of a serious injury happening to you is 1 in 24 million, according to IAAPA, and the chance of fatality is 1 in 750 million (based on an average of 5 rides per person). Although a situation such as Rosy Esparza is highly unlikely, it doesn’t mean that safety should not be thought about.
Here are some safety tips to make sure that your visit to an amusement park is a safe one. 
Top 5 Tips for Parents:
1. Take Digital Pictures Before Leaving
You may think that this is over the top, but it’s smart to take a photo of each person in your family before you leave for the park. This will make it a lot easier to locate a child that has wandered away, and you won’t have any trouble describing what they are wearing if you are looking at a current picture you took that day. The pictures can also be used as keepsakes to remember your trip.
2. Look Past the Height Limit
Most rides are not limited by age, but by height. This means that a young child who is taller than average can get on a ride even if it may be too intense for them. Try to take a look at each ride from the perspective of your child, and see if it may be too extreme for them. It is also extremely important that your child will be safely secured by the lap bar or seat belts, and that there is no chance of them slipping under it, especially if the ride goes upside-down. 
3. Always Keep an Eye on Your Children
Children under the age of 12 should not be left unattended or on their own recognises in a theme park. Make sure that you check their ride restrains before the ride begins, even if they have done so themselves. If you choose to sit out one of the rides, be sure to stay close, and always make sure you have an eye on them from where you are standing. If you can see them then it is more likely that they can see you as well. Going to the restroom as a group or with a buddy is another way to make sure you all stay together. Many amusement parks offer family bathrooms allowing you to bring your child to the restroom without having to let them go alone.
4. Voice Your Safety Concerns
If you believe that something is wrong with a ride, and poses a safety concern, inform the operator immediately and as soon as you possibly can tell the park’s guest relations of your concern just incase the operator did not understand you correctly.
5. Follow All Warnings, Rules, & Regulations
Warning Signs are there for a reason: for your safety. If it says DO NOT RIDE if you have certain health issues or conditions, then do not board the ride, or talk to someone from park services before riding for clarification. Make sure to go over the rules with your family before entering the park so you leave the park safely and in good health.  
Top 5 Tips for Children:
1. Follow the Rules, Not Others
The rules are made to allow you to have fun and prevent you from getting in harm’s way. Whether or not other kids are listening to the rules, you should always follow them because their day at the park may get spoiled while your visit will just be nothing but a good time. 
2. Choose Rides That Interest You
If you don’t feel comfortable going on a ride that your family or friends are going on then you don’t have to. It’s better to enjoy a ride and feel safe going on it then following what everyone else is doing. Let your parents know if you do not feel comfortable going on a ride and ask a staff member if you can wait with them at the exit while your family enjoys the ride.
3. Pay Attention to Specific Safety Instructions
Look out for signs that say things like, “hang on to the handles,” “slide only feet first,” “stay seated at all times,” “don’t rock the seat” or “throw away gum before you ride.” They post these signs because they know that if you do these things it is more likely the kids on these rides can get hurt. Follow any & all ride rules - they’re there for your safety.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
If you see kids who may be too old to be on the ride and they are pushing, shoving and making the ride not fun for you, tell the ride operator and they can point them in a direction where there are more mature rides!  
5. Teach Your Parents Some Safety Rules You Know
You may think that your parents know more about amusement parks then you do, but I bet there are somethings that they still haven’t learned. Adults can get hurt too if they don’t ride properly, so why not teach them some of the rules you know and make sure you all are on the same page before walking into the park.  
Don’t spend another weekend in doors on a beautiful summer day, go enjoy your next outing at an amusement park. Now that you have these safety tips in mind, what are you waiting for? Those roller coaster lines are getting longer by the minute. 
Sources: [ IAAPA, ABC News, NSC]   

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