Summertime is winding down while serious amusement park injuries and even deaths seem to be on the rise as we enjoy the last of summer. As we take a look at some of the most serious accidents mechanical failure is the suspected culprit in three of the accidents. Thursday a ten year-old was killed on a 168 foot water slide in Kansas. Guest at the park indicated that some of the restraints on the slide were not working. A three-year-old boy fell out of a roller coaster yesterday in Pennsylvania. The child was riding with an older brother when he fell out of the roller coaster built in 1938. The restraints used in the roller coaster were bars not individual seat belts. The height requirement is at least 36" or the child must be accompanied by an adult. Three children were injured in a Ferris wheel accident in Tennessee last week when the basket they were riding in dumped them out due to a mechanical failure. The youngest a six year old is listed in critical condition while the other two girls are listed in stable condition. Florida residents will never forget the chilling story of a toddler being pulled into a Disney World lake in Orlando this summer by an alligator. The child was killed. Considering the number of us enjoying Amusement Parks, Water Parks and County Fairs every year it is unlikely that we can stop all of the accidents that occur but we are all hopeful that the level of serious accidents that have plagued the industry this summer will create a safer environment for all of us especially our children. We have listed a few tips and words of caution below
1. 1. Keep Close Watch on Children. Know where they are even if they are older make sure you agree on a meeting time and place that will give you an opportunity to monitor their safety. Check on them and make sure they are following the rules.
2. 2. Observe Park Employees in key positions. Are the employees distracted texting, talking on cell phones? Are employees observing safety rules for all of the riders? Seat belts, height requirements, proper distance between riders on a water slide. Don't hesitate to report them for your safety as well as the safety of others.
3. 3. Appropriate Clothing. Before you go consider appropriate clothing. Strings and ties could become dangerous catching on rides. Long hair may be caught in rides resulting in serious injury. Comfortable shoes that will not slip on wet surfaces.
4. 4. Follow Park Rules. Don't argue with employees trying to enforce the rules. Remember your children are listening. While your child may be smart enough or large enough in your opinion the rules are set with all of the patrons in mind.
5. 5.Find Emergency Exits and Plan a Meeting Place for your group in the event of an emergency.
6. 6. Respect the Power of the Water when visiting a water park. Even if your child swims well you may want to equip them with a life jacket especially smaller children. Many water parks offer free life jackets for your use. Caution them to avoid swallowing water remember this is not your backyard pool. Serious illness has been associated with small children swallowing polluted water while playing at water parks.
7. 7.Report Faulty Equipment. If you observe faulty seat belts or restraints that are not working refuse to use the seats with the faulty equipment and report them.
8. 8. Choose Rides Appropriate for Child's Age and Size. Allow your child the option of not going on a ride that frightens them. Research the parks web site with your child and discuss which rides they may want to ride.
9. 9.Take Another Adult Along if Possible. An extra adult will help keep children safe and peaceful with extra supervision. Pirates and Princesses may have different ideas about what they want to do.
10. 10. Be Smart. Drink plenty of water and use sunscreen. Make sure you reapply sunscreen especially if you are at a water park. Some parks allow you to bring your own food and drinks.
11. 11. Check all Safety Equipment. Make sure seat belts are fastened and fit appropriately for your size and or the size of your child.
12. 12. Keep Body Parts Inside the ride. If you drop something do not try and retrieve it outside the ride. Serious injuries and even death have resulted from amusement park riders attempting to retrieve cell phones and other items dropped. Consider what type of bag is best to carry your essentials. Many parks have locker rentals available.
13. 13. Temporary Rides may not be set up as safely or inspected as often as larger more well established amusement parks.
14. 14. Bounce Houses and Inflatables. If you decide to rent a Bounce House or Inflatable slide for your child's party make sure rules listed on the label are followed and that they are properly secured. Consider limiting the number of children bouncing at one time and the differences in weight. Bounce houses have become air born with children inside when they were not properly tied down.