Play It Safe at the Amusement Park
As the weather warms up, many families are looking forward to spending quality time together at amusement parks. After all, few things are more fun than the adrenaline rush of a mega-coaster, water slide or other theme park attraction.
Every year in the United States, almost 370 million people visit amusement parks and enjoy over 1.7 billion rides safely, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). But it’s important to realize that when amusement park safety regulations are disregarded, thrills may become hazards. There are also other potential issues to consider, such as dehydration, sunburn, pickpockets and children becoming separated from their parents. If you’re looking forward to a fun day out with your family, consider following these practical tips for amusement park safety:
Though it’s a park’s responsibility to maintain the safety of its rides, the IAAPA notes that many amusement park injuries happen when guests do not follow safety guidelines. It’s your responsibility as a visitor to adhere to the park’s rules, and the IAAPA recommends guests follow these basic safety tips:
- Abide by all listed safety rules and instructions from ride operators.
- Adhere to age, weight, height and health guidelines and restrictions.
- Stay seated and keep your limbs inside the ride at all times.
- Don’t get off the ride until it has come to a complete stop and you are instructed to exit.
- Always use the seat belt or other provided safety equipment — do not loosen or wiggle out of safety devices.
- Report any unsafe equipment or behavior to the operator.
- Explain to your children how to enjoy the ride safely.
- Respect anybody’s refusal to go on the ride, especially children and senior citizens.
- Report unsafe behavior and ride conditions to park staff immediately.
Be Smart in the Sun
Since you’ll likely be spending much of the day at an amusement park outdoors, it’s important to be prepared for a day in the sun. And you may feel even warmer if the park is crowded. Heat-related conditions such as heat stroke, sunburn and dehydration can make you sick enough to visit the ER. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the key to staying healthy during the heat of summer is prevention. The CDC suggests that you:
- Drink plenty of water, and do not wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
- Refrain from consuming drinks that contain alcohol or are sugary.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothes, a hat and sunglasses.
- Take regular breaks in the shade.
- If you’re feeling too hot, get out of the sun. Enter an air-conditioned space such as a restaurant or mall until you feel cooler.
- To help prevent sunburn, apply SPF 15 or higher broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers UVA/UVB protection, and reapply often throughout the day.
- Check on children, pregnant women, senior citizens and those with health conditions to see if they need extra care.
If you have a medical condition that may make you more susceptible to heat-related issues or limits the amount of fluids you can drink, take extra caution and talk to your doctor about how to best stay hydrated and prevent heat stroke.
Keep Your Children Safe
Amusement parks are usually large and busy, and it’s easy for a child to become lost or separated from their family. KidSmartz.org provides these tips for making a day out with your kids a little safer:
- Tell your children to stay with a friend or adult in your group at all times.
- Instruct them to tell you or another accompanying adult if somebody is scaring them or making them uncomfortable.
- Choose a meeting spot, like a specific store or information booth, in case you get separated.
- Make sure your cellphone is charged and that your kids know your number.
- Know what they’re wearing (or take a picture of them) so that you can describe it to park staff if your child is lost.
- Point out other adults, such as park security and staff members, who can help kids if needed.
Protect Your Valuables
You don’t want your day to be ruined by a pickpocket, but it is something you need to think about. Thieves know how to blend in so their victims won’t have anything specific by which to identify them, says the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). And it may be even easier to blend in with the crowds at a busy amusement park. To help minimize your chances of becoming a target or victim of theft, consider these helpful tips from the MPD:
- Carry your wallet and valuable documents, such as ID and park tickets, on the front of your body, preferably in a zippered or buttoned pocket.
- Do not carry a purse over one shoulder. Instead, have the strap diagonal across your body with the purse in front of you.
- Use bags with zippers and snaps so they are more difficult to get into.
- Make sure to never leave your purse or wallet unattended.
It’s also a good idea to watch for distractions, such as someone bumping into you even when it isn’t crowded, says the MPD. Thieves also are known to work in teams, with one person getting you into a conversation or pulling your attention elsewhere while their accomplice grabs your wallet or bag.
Amusement parks can be a fun way to spend time with your family. With a little planning, you can be better prepared to have a safe and memorable time.
Originally published on August 21, 2013.