ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks can be great summer fun for the whole family. Still, experts say knowing how to beat the heat, stay safe, and understand the warning signs of a potentially unsafe ride could save parents and children alike from bad experiences and injury.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that hospital emergency departments saw 24,013 injuries caused by mobile amusement park attractions in 2022, many of which were preventable.
The New York State Department of Labor says they inspect all rides at stationary parks at least once a year and at traveling carnivals or fairs whenever the rides are set up at a new location. They say rides legally cannot operate without a permit, and the NYSDOL will place dated inspection tags on each ride after it has passed.
These tags should be visible at the ride’s entrance, allowing families to see that the ride has been inspected and deemed safe. NYSDOL says if you do not see the tag, ask the operator to show it to you.
Even if the ride is inspected and safe to get on, riders and visitors should remain mindful of their surroundings and safety, as many of the injuries that occur on rides and at parks, fairs, and carnivals are preventable by following simple safety guidelines.
Tips for ride safety
New York State has released recommendations to stay safe, reminding thrill-seekers that rules were created for everyone’s safety. They say all riders should obey listed age, height, weight, and health restrictions, and follow all directions posted on signs, given by ride operators, or announced through recorded messages. In addition, officials provided additional guidance for riders:
- Don’t pressure anybody to ride: Never force anyone, especially children, to get on attractions they don’t want to ride.
- Buckle up: Always use all safety equipment provided on rides and never attempt to get free or loosen restraints or other safety devices. Always keep hands, arms, legs, and feet inside the rides.
- Keep loose items off rides: Don’t carry loose items like wallets, glasses, cell phones, or hats with you on any ride. Taking photos or videos on a ride is dangerous.
- Stay seated: Remain seated in the ride until it comes to a complete stop, and you are instructed to exit.
- Pace yourself: Take frequent breaks if you’re riding high g-force rides, such as roller coasters. Repeated high g-force rides can result in the loss of consciousness, which can lead to serious injury.
- Stay alert: If you are injured or see any unsafe behavior or conditions on a ride, immediately report it to an employee at the venue.
For little ones, they say, parents, guardians, and families should stay alert and aware and make sure children are following the rules:
- Know the rules: Make sure children can understand and follow safe behavior for the day, especially when on rides. If you don’t think your child can follow the rules for a ride, do not let them get on. Never sneak children onto rides if they are below the posted height, weight, or age limits.
- Watch before you ride: Watch any rides with your child so you both know what to expect before getting on. You can also read any instruction signs aloud with your child and point out the ride operator, exit locations, and entrance locations.
- Make sure children are seated safely: Make sure children know they must use all safety equipment on rides. Don’t assume a ride is safe for children if you hold on to them. If you hold on to your child, you can’t look after yourself, and you may both be at risk of injury.
- Have a plan in case your child gets lost: Teach children what to do if they get separated from you. Point out uniformed park employees who can help them and designate a conspicuous spot as a meeting place if your child gets lost.
Beat the heat
While ride safety is crucial, the summer heat is also a safety risk to fair, carnival, and amusement park-goers. At these places, people usually walk and stand in the hot sun more than usual, which can result in dehydration or illness. People should take breaks between going on rides and walking, stay hydrated, and know where to find first-aid stations in an emergency. Alcohol should also be avoided, as it can cause dehydration, and getting on rides while impaired puts yourself and others at risk.
Officials say New York State is home to more than 50 county and youth fairs that operate from July through September, and all can enjoy the season’s festivities and rides and should keep safety in mind at all times.
More information is available at dol.ny.gov/ride-safe-ny