Cotton candy, fun houses, and roller coasters make for some great childhood memories. But the scary fact is that amusement park rides account for thousands of injuries every year. In 2016 alone, more than 30,000 such injuries were reported from emergency rooms in the US. And after the 2016 incident that caused the decapitation of Caleb Schwab in Kansas, parents are starting to take notice. While no one is saying you should boycott amusement parks altogether, there are some things you need to know.
Amusement park risk factors
Amusement park accidents can be caused by all sorts of factors. Mechanical failure, disregard for the rules, and pre-existing conditions are all just some of the things that can lead to disaster. Take, for example, the 1997 incident at Bell’s Amusement Park in Oklahoma where a 14-year-old boy was ejected from a roller coaster and killed. The accident was caused by a mechanism that malfunctioned, causing the car to slip and slide backward 45 feet, colliding with another car. Six other people also suffered injuries.
Government regulations of amusement parks
Amusement parks are governed by the state in which they are located rather than by federal government. This means park safety regulations may vary greatly, depending on where they are. For example, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Ohio are three states that do not regulate water slides at their amusement parks, while many of the other states do. And only eight states require government inspections of their rides, while the others can either self-inspect or use third-party inspectors. Other factors that may not be regulated by every state include frequency of inspections, age of operators, portable ride regulations, and how incidents are investigated.
What to do if you’re injured at an amusement park
If you or someone you know sustains an injury at an amusement park, the first and most important thing to do is seek medical attention. If the injury is serious or leaves you immobile or unconscious for any length of time, the park officials will call an ambulance or have medics on staff to assist you. Once you’ve received medical care, you may need to contact an attorney. An accident attorney in Pennsylvania, where a 3-year-old nearly died after falling from a ride in 2016, can advise you on the best course of action to take in your particular situation. If you feel your injury was caused by negligence on the part of the amusement park, you could have cause to file a lawsuit or reach a settlement with the park owners.
Despite the possibilities for injuries you’ll encounter at an amusement park, it’s important to note that the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions estimates only about a 1 in 18 million chance of serious injury on an amusement park ride, which is less than the chance of being struck by lightning. But that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. And in order to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, it’s important to practice some safety measures. Saferparks claims that most injuries can be prevented if you take some precautions. For example, read and obey all posted rules. All rides will have their own sets of regulations posted, such as height requirements and age restrictions. And make sure you properly check all latches and restraints before the ride begins. Watch out for rides that look improperly maintained or have operators that aren’t paying attention. Most importantly, never remove your restraints until the ride is completely stopped and remain inside your compartment until you’re instructed to exit. Don’t let fear keep you from enjoying the excitement of amusement parks, but do use caution and exercise good judgment to protect yourself and your loved ones from unfortunate incidents.