Hundreds of millions of people visit U.S. amusement parks every year and take over a billion rides.
Serious injuries are few -- about one in 24 million. Yet accidents -- including fatal accidents -- do happen, often because riders didn't follow safety guidelines or had a pre-existing medical condition.
But sometimes accidents can be caused by faulty equipment or operator error. Here's how to protect yourself and your family while still having fun.
- Always follow posted safety rules, especially those concerning age, height, weight and health restrictions. Be conservative when choosing rides for children, seniors and people with disabilities.
- Use all seat belts, shoulder harnesses and lap bars. Double check that they're fully latched. Both small, thin riders and obese riders are at higher risk than others of being ejected from rides that have only lap restraints.
- All riders must keep all limbs inside the ride at all times. Hold onto handrails and stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop. Keep your eyes forward to protect your neck. Never stand up or rock in a ride that's not designed for it. If a ride stops midway, stay seated and wait for instructions. Make sure your kids know this if they ride without you. Report unsafe behavior or conditions you see to a manager immediately.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates how amusement park rides are manufactured, but there's no federal oversight over how they're set up, maintained and operated. So always err on the side of caution.
To learn more about government regulations over amusement parks in your state or in states you'll be visiting, the website SaferParks has a wealth of information and important links.
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