It’s still cold outside, but spring is coming. Your family may be ready to start planning for spring break and summer vacation. Perhaps a visit to a theme park or amusement park is in your future.

Whether you are traveling to Six Flags or heading to your local fair, you may be concerned about safety. You may be especially worried about the big rides.

Accidents do happen on these rides. On July 19, 2000, a girl’s toes were crushed when the operator of the Cajun Cliffhanger at Six Flags Great America raised the floor of the ride before the ride had come to a complete stop. The girl’s foot became trapped between the floor and the wall. However, accidents like these are very rare. There have been no serious ride-related accidents at the Gurnee park in the past decade.

According to a 2013 study, it’s not the big rides that you need to worry about. Smaller rides injure more than 4,400 children each year. These rides include carousels, roller coasters, bumper cars, mini trains, and kiddy rides at parks, fairs, restaurants, and shopping malls.

The study was conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Researchers searched through twenty years of data collected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Between 1990 and 2010, nearly 93,000 children under the age of 18 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ride-related injuries. Fortunately, fewer than two percent of injuries required hospitalization.

Most Common Amusement Ride Injuries

  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Strains and sprains
  • Fractures
  • Concussions

The Most Dangerous Rides

  • Carousels (20.9 percent of injuries)
  • Roller coasters (10 percent of injuries)
  • Bumper cars (4 percent of injuries)

Thirty percent of the accidents involved falls; 18 percent involved a child hitting a body part on the ride or being struck by an object. Injuries also occurred when a child was caught in a ride or was hurt while getting on or off the ride. Only 3.5 percent of accidents involved a ride malfunction. Thirty-four percent of the rides occurred at theme parks and amusement parks; 29 percent occurred at carnivals, festivals and other temporary locations. Twelve percent occurred at malls, restaurants, and arcades. Half of the victims were under age five.

Keep Your Child Safe

These tips can help you keep your child safe on amusement rides:

  • Pay attention to the rules. Follow all age, height, weight and health restrictions.
  • Follow the operator’s instructions while getting on and off the ride.
  • Always use safety equipment such as seat belts and safety bars. Avoid rides with missing or damaged safety equipment.
  • Avoid rides with hard, unpadded seats.
  • Keep hands and feet inside the ride.
  • If your child is too young to follow the rules, don’t let him on the ride.
  • Trust your instincts. If you are concerned about the safety of a ride, choose another activity.

Sometimes injuries are due to missing safety equipment or operator error. When an injury occurs, it is a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will be able to tell you if the park, mall, or ride owner is at fault. He may also be able to help you get compensation for your child’s injury. To learn more, please contact Hupy and Abraham at 866-625-2299.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.