The rush to enjoy amusement parks increases rapidly as summer vacation draws near. These parks usually cover several acres of land and are full of rides, games, and concession stands. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the statistical odds of being injured while visiting a theme park are quite low.
Amusement Park Safety Tips
Each year, hundreds of millions of people visit amusement parks and carnivals in North America. For the price of admission, patrons expect a day of entertainment and they usually get their money’s worth in the form of being frightened to death in haunted houses or being hurdled through the air on a roller coaster at 4 Gs.
However, this isn’t a good reason to throw caution to the wind and ignore the safety regulations that are supposed to protect everyone from harm. Who wants to leave an amusement park with bad memories? Before heading out for a day of fun remember these tips to ensure a trouble-free experience.
Talk to your children about park employees exhibiting unsafe behaviors. Is the ride operator paying attention? Are they on their phone or do they seem distracted? Have a script to go over what kids should say if something doesn’t seem right — and to not worry about upsetting anyone. Likewise, kids should speak up if a ride’s strap or harness isn’t fastened properly.
Amusement park outings aren’t cheap. Which is why some parents might try to convince an operator to allow a child on a ride because they are “so close” to meeting age or height requirements. But boarding a ride without meeting those requirements or without being otherwise ready can compromise a child’s safety.
A good day at an amusement park begins with reading these rules posted near the rides and taking them seriously. Even if a child is tall enough to handle a trip on a roller coaster, he or she may not have a good sense of how fast it goes. Consequently, the physical forces would be uncomfortable and most likely frightening. Parents shouldn’t give in to a child’s pleas to get on a ride that is unsuitable.
It’s a good idea to revisit “stranger danger” tips before a park visit. Parents should be especially careful with what they post on social media. Many people can see your location and other personal details. It’s not far-fetched for a stranger armed with this information to cozy up to kids. Explain to children that just because adults know their names and other personal information, it doesn’t mean they can be trusted.
Observe the Attractions
When you arrive at the park take a look at the condition of the rides. Listen to what happens when one of them is in motion. Does it make a lot of noise? Can you see rust or signs of poor maintenance? If so, you can bet that the vital components aren’t being taken care of. Does it appear that the operator is paying attention? Most do but every once in a while you will notice somebody who isn’t and in such a case it’s wise to move on to another ride.
Following the rules of a ride are important to having a fun, safe experience at amusement parks. Rules are usually listed on signs around the ride and repeated by the ride operators. In general, rules consist of always keeping arms and legs inside the ride at all times, never bringing unsecured objects onto the ride, and making sure the safety equipment is in place. Failing to heed rules can lead to injury, fatality, or being banned from the park for not obeying basic amusement park safety policies.
Every amusement park has places where nobody should go except the employees. Take note of warning signs on doors and areas sealed off with tall fences, and tell children not to venture too close.
On hot days when humidity is high make sure to take lots of bottled water and sunscreen. Amusement parks have an exciting atmosphere and the constant activity wears everyone out. As exhaustion sets in it will become harder to stay focused, so take breaks and limit exposure to the harsh sunlight. Very young children and elderly family members just don’t have the endurance levels of teenagers and young adults; don’t push them too hard.
The spinning and jostling of rides, being out in the hot sun and eating salty and sugary foods can make kids sick. Encourage kids to drink water and eat something substantial, not just junk food. Hydration is essential. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out — and every two hours after that — no matter the weather or temperature.
Apply the same thoughts you use everyday when going to an amusement park. If something doesn’t look safe, walk away and report it if necessary. Make sure children walk — not run — so they don’t collide with somebody else. Belts and other restraints should be completely secure when on the rides, and never exit a ride until it stops moving. Now everyone is ready to enjoy an afternoon at an amusement park!
Tips from SAFE KIDS Worldwide
SAFE KIDS Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under.
- Amusement parks have graduated activities, so plan your day ahead of time to make sure you’re participating in rides meant for your child’s age and developmental level.
- As a family, review the rules of the park before you enter. Remind kids that they should not make rides dangerous by standing, putting their arms or legs outside of the ride, or getting off before it stops completely.
- Don’t save the most thrilling rides for end of the day—you and your kids might be tired, dehydrated, or possibly sunburned. Instruct your kids to always use the safety equipment provided by the park, such as seat belts, shoulder harnesses, chains, and lap belts.
- Police the park! If a ride doesn’t look right, in terms of the maintenance or parts, or if you think the operator of it is being inattentive operator, pass on it and mention it to the park supervisors.
- Remind your children that rides sometimes can stop temporarily, but that riders must never get off until the operator tells them to.
- Point out the operator and the loading/unloading locations to children.
- For all children ages seven and under, give them an ID card. (You can use one from our Clip ‘N’ Save Important Numbers printable.) Put your child’s name, address, and a cell phone number on it, then place it in your child’s pocket and let her know it’s there, and that she should give it to a park employee or an adult if she is in trouble.
- Tell your kids if they get lost, they should search for a park employee. It’s a good idea to point out what these employees look like ahead of time.