1000 SW Jackson Suite 230
Topeka, KS 66612-1274
(785) 296-8649 (FAX)
NHTSA Region VII
Dennis Cooley, MD
American Academy of
SAFE KIDS Coalition
Kansas Safety Belt
Fire Marshal's Office
Kansas Hospital Association
Amusement Park Safety:
'Parents need to use their own judgment'
Safe Kids Kansas offers thrill ride safety tips
Every year, nationwide, more than 8,000 children ages 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms for injuries involving thrill rides at amusement parks and traveling carnivals; in an average year, four or five die.
Kiddie rides designed for ages 4 and under account for nearly a quarter of amusement park injuries to children. This category includes inflatable attractions such as bounces and slides. “Parents need to use their own judgment. Posted age and height requirements are minimal guidelines,” says Jan Stegelman, Safe Kids Kansas coordinator.
“Follow the rules,” says Stegelman. “If a ride operator tells you to keep your hands and feet inside the car, to hold the handrail or to remain seated, there’s a good reason.”
Portable carnival rides are subject to safety regulations enforced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Amusement park rides at a fixed location are not subject to federal safety standards. Parents and caregivers need to decide whether their children are capable of sitting properly on a ride and following the operator’s instructions.
In addition, Safe Kids Kansas offers these recommendations:
- Role-model proper safety behavior. Children are more likely to follow safety rules when they see their parents doing so.
- Supervise your child getting on and off a ride. Make sure the child understands all announcements and posted rules. Also, don’t allow children to supervise younger children on rides.
- Always use the safety equipment provided. Safety belts, lap bars, chains, handrails and other safety features are there for a reason.
- Never get off a moving ride. Wait until the ride comes to a complete stop. Also, if a ride stops due to a mechanical problem or safety concern, stay seated and wait for instructions.
- Don’t let children ride if they’re too tired to comply with safety procedures. On some rides, it’s important to stay upright and face forward. Also, don’t pressure kids to go on a ride they’re afraid of, as they’re more likely to sit incorrectly or even try to get off.
- Note the limitations of safety devices. Lap bars and chains are not physical restraints — their main function is to remind the occupant to stay seated. If a small child sits next to a large adult, a lap bar might not offer the child much protection.
- Trust your instincts. If a ride looks like it’s poorly maintained or an operator seems to be inattentive or unfit, don’t let your children ride. While most operators pay close attention to safety, there are exceptions, as in any industry.
For additional information about amusement park safety, visit www.usa.safekids.org.
Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of 67 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters are located in Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Nemaha, Osage, Pottawatomie, Republic, Rice, Riley, Saline, Smith, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Wilson and Woodson Counties, as well as the cities of Chanute, Emporia, Leavenworth, Norton, Pittsburg, the Wichita Area and the Metro Kansas City Area. Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide , a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. For more information visit www.safekidskansas.org.