Staying Injury-Free at the Fair

How to Avoid Injury at the Carnival

Summer is almost here. That means parents taking their kids to amusement parks and carnivals. This also means the possibility of hundreds of carnival and amusement park related accidents happening. Every year, thousands of people -- children and adults alike -- suffer injuries, with some even losing their lives from accidents caused by carnival rides.

In fact, between the years 1990 and 2010, over 92,000 children suffered injuries from carnival rides. This means that almost 4,500 children are injured by amusement rides every year. In 2011 alone, over 1,200 people were injured in rides in various parks across the country.

Now, this is not to say carnival and amusement rides are all bad. In fact, given that millions of people go to the various local carnivals every year, the number of people who get injured every year is a tiny fraction. Nevertheless, an injury is an injury. And when it concerns you and your family, it's something to take seriously. We'll discuss a few tips for how to avoid your first personal injury claim.

Learn the History of the Ride

Most parents probably wouldn’t do this, but you can always lookup previous incidents in a park or on rides managed by a company. This will often tell you how safe the ride is. More often than not, understanding the precedent can give you an idea of what to expect.

For instance, a Windseeker stalled in the air for the better part of one hour, while carrying about 64 fun seekers sometime in 2013 at Carowinds theme park in NC. The interesting thing is it had happened earlier in 2012 too.

Then, there may also be the part of the ride itself. If similar rides record the same issues regardless of their parks, then you might have a manufacturing issue and just avoid the ride completely. Whether it's the operators or the equipment you're looking at, you can always find out more with a little research.

Check to See if the Equipment is Regularly Inspected

How frequently are safety inspections carried out on those rides? Most carnival, amusement and theme park operators are big on safety procedures -- they're in the business of giving people a place to enjoy themselves. And they know that one incident can put them out of that business.

So be on the lookout for inspection tags or notices, and take note of what you see. Look for obvious signs of wear that haven't been attended to. And always make sure you understand the safety implications of the ride before you send your children off to enjoy it. The operators should always be happy to tell you how to stay safe on their rides.

Use any Embedded Safety Mechanisms as Indicated by the Operators

Carnival rides often have their own, embedded safety mechanisms. But whether they are activated or frequently monitored is the operator’s responsibility. Each of these devices should be working, and ride-goers should receive instruction on how to ensure they are working correctly. If you think that a safety feature on a ride is in questionable condition, avoid it entirely.

Be Wary of Triggering Previous Medical Conditions

Carnival rides aren’t advisable for people with pre-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure, hypertension, arrhythmia, and other health issues. If going on the ride is likely to exacerbate an existing condition, you might want to steer clear of it entirely. This information should be posted at the location, but it doesn't hurt to look for it when you check up on the ride or its operators.

Also, make sure to adhere to height, age, weight, and other instructions or limitations. Those instructions are there to help ensure everyone's safety.

Exercise Sound Judgement

The carnival should be a fun event for you and your family, and the overwhelming majority of the time, that's exactly what it is. But sometimes people do make mistakes. Stories abound of people wandering into restricted areas, failing to observe safety procedures, or even just not planning for the heat and suffering dehydration. And sometimes the mistake is on the part of the operators, and can expose you and your family to undeserved risk. You shouldn't need to have David Heil on speed dial just to make sure you have a good time, but you do need to keep your eyes open.

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