By Rebecca L. Bailey, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham
Due to COVID-19 the summer of 2020 for most of us has been mediocre at best, thanks to vacation cancellations and business closures. Of course, we’ve all enjoyed spending quality time with family during quarantine, but summer just isn’t summer without a trip to an amusement park, swimming at a community pool, and indulging in fair foods at a carnival.
Amusement parks are usually at the top of a traditional summer bucket list. But, nothing turns a fun day of food and roller coasters bad faster than a preventable accident or injury.
While amusement parks are a great opportunity to create lasting memories with your loved ones, they are still very high-risk environments. According to a study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy, an average of 20 children per day are treated for amusement ride injuries from May to September every year. That’s an average of more than 4,400 children injured each year.
Suffice to say, not all amusement park injuries can be treated with antibacterial ointment and a band-aid. And it’s not just the big rides such as the carousels, roller coasters, and bumper cars that you need to worry about. There are many ways that injuries can occur at an amusement park. A ride can malfunction, a ride operator can make a mistake, a park could have insufficient safety precautions, or you may be struck by a flying object during your visit to the park; these are just a few examples. Any of these things can result in serious or even fatal injuries. However, the most common types of amusement park accidents are falls. Falls typically occur when:
- A trip hazard is on the ground
- The ground is slippery
- The ride lacks properly working restraints
- The way to get on and off the ride is unsafe
Amusement Ride Injuries Infographic from Nationwide Children's Hospital
10 Amusement Ride Safety Tips
Follow the Global Association for the Attractions Industry’s tips to help keep children and visitors safe on amusement rides:
- Obey listed age, height, weight, and health restrictions.
- Observe all posted ride safety rules, and follow all verbal instructions given by ride operators or provided by recorded announcements.
- Keep hands, arms, legs, and feet inside the ride at all times.
- Secure all loose articles, including wallets, change, sunglasses, cell phones, and hats.
- Do not board a ride impaired.
- Remain seated in the ride until it comes to a complete stop and you are instructed to exit.
- Always use safety equipment provided, such as seat belts and safety bars, and never attempt to wriggle free of or loosen restraints or other safety devices. Avoid rides with hard, unpadded seats and missing or damaged safety equipment.
- Parents should make sure their children can understand and follow safe and appropriate ride behavior.
- Never force anyone, especially children, to ride attractions they don't want to ride.
- If you see any unsafe behavior or condition on a ride, report it to a supervisor or manager immediately.
If your family is visiting a water park, there are additional safety precautions to keep in mind. According to Parents.com, [link to https://www.parents.com/fun/vacation/theme-parks/9-ways-to-stay-safe-at-amusement-parks/] the most crucial thing is to know your child's swimming ability and be cautious about allowing them into attractions such as wave pools without a life vest if they aren't strong swimmers. Be sure to stay within an arm's length of children so you can respond if they get scared, disoriented, or overwhelmed on a water attraction.
In Pennsylvania, state law [link to http://www.ridesafe.pa.gov/] requires that rides be inspected at least every 30 days by state-certified inspectors at amusement and water parks. For fairs and carnivals, the law mandates that rides be inspected every time they are assembled. Random safety inspections are performed by state-employed personnel at any given time. Inspection reports must be sent to the state via mail, fax, or online within 48 hours of the inspection. For fair and amusement park rides in Pennsylvania, riders can look for a registration plate on each ride to make sure it’s registered properly with the state. If the plate is not visible, you should ask the ride operator to produce it to you. You can also ask to see the most recent inspection reports, which operators are required to keep on hand.
In early 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture launched a public website that allows amusement park visitors to view when a particular ride was last inspected. While up-to-date inspections may alleviate some safety concerns, inspections alone do not guarantee that amusement park accidents will not happen.
Remember, if the proper precautions aren't taken, a fun day at an amusement park can become a disaster in a matter of seconds. Don’t let a preventable injury spoil your family's day at the amusement park.
Have you or a loved one experienced an amusement park-related injury? The experienced personal injury lawyers at Metzger Wickersham are available 24/7 to hear your case. Contact us at (888)-286-2850 or email us toa free consultation.