Archive for April, 2012

Safety Tips for Using Amusement Park Rides

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 | Permalink

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Your children ask if they can go on this really cool ride – a rollercoaster that whips you around at a very fast speed. Sure! you say. Your kids have to be “this tall,” the sign says. No problem. You’re all seated, then the motor starts and the ride begins. Up, up, and turn to the left… You begin to feel the rush of excitement – all the way down to your stomach. Everyone screams as the ride descends to the next dip in the tracks. Around you go, you’re pushed into the person sitting next to you…forced to lean to the right. People scream again, including you. The track levels off, but something doesn’t seem right. People are still screaming.

What’s going on? Your first thought is of your family, your children. You look for your kids – they’re crying. The ride comes to a stop at the gate. You step off and run toward the seats where your kids are sitting, and your heart sinks. On one turn during the ride, a child had got pushed up too far, and the lap belt didn’t protect him as it was designed to. The color red was everywhere. Your children reach for you, and you give them the tightest hug ever imagined. Your family was spared from harms way, but not from the impact this tragic accident has made on their lives…it’s something you will never, ever forget.

Accidents on amusement park rides have doubled in the past few years, and they continue to happen, way too often with devastating consequences.

According to data obtained from the CPSC (emergency room), New Jersey State, and the Anaheim Fire Department, young children are most injured on amusement park rides. But the actual number of injuries may be highly underestimated. “Injury rates may be under-reported”, said Congressman Markey (D-Mass) at a Congressional hearing in May, 2000. Why are there so many accidents? Why aren’t there stricter guidelines for checking amusement park rides? Doesn’t your family deserve to know that the ride they entrust their lives with, will keep them safe?

For one reason or another, accident data for large theme parks isn’t easy to secure. California’s one-year-old law has yet to take effect, and Florida’s theme parks, which account for 20% of all US amusement park business, are exempt from state regulatory laws. Why aren’t we allowed to know the actual number of injuries that have occurred on all amusement park rides? As responsible people, shouldn’t we be able to make an informed decision about something that involves something as precious as our lives? Are we as safe as we think we are? Unfortunately, we’re not. If there were programs in place to help make sure all rides were well-maintained, we’d be better off.

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If you follow these safety tips, you will help minimize your risk of injury due to carelessness:

General Safety Tips

  • Read posted rules carefully.
  • Keep all body parts (hands, arms, legs, long hair, etc.) inside ride at all times. Don’t be misled by amusement park advertisements that show riders happily violating this safety rule. Riders are hurt every year because they wave their hands or legs at the wrong moment. This kind of “do as we say, not as we do” approach to safety is particularly dangerous for young children, who learn by imitating and who cannot read the signs warning riders to keep hands, arms, and feet inside the car.
  • Always use the safety equipment provided (seat belt, shoulder harness, lap bar, chain, etc.).
  • Hold onto handrails, when provided. They’re part of the safety equipment, designed to keep you safely in place.
  • Remain in the ride until it comes to a final stop at the unloading point. If a ride stops temporarily, due to a breakdown or other reason, stay seated and wait for the ride to start up again or for an operator to give you further instructions.
  • Stop riding before you get excessively tired, to avoid accidents.
  • Never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Don’t board a ride if you see obviously broken parts, signs of poor maintenance, or an inattentive operator. While most parks and carnivals pay close attention to ride safety, there are unfortunate exceptions – just as in any industry. Follow your instincts. If something about a ride seems out of whack, don’t ride it.

Safety Tips for Parents of Young Children

  • Be a cautious consumer when it comes to kiddie rides.
  • Amusement rides are no different than any other kind of product targeted at children. They offer benefits and risks. Use the same good judgement when picking amusement rides that you do when deciding which foods or TV shows or toys are safe for your kids. Just because an amusement park says it’s okay with them if your toddler rides alone on a kiddie train, that doesn’t mean he won’t fall off and hurt himself.
  • Don’t put children on rides they’re afraid of.
  • When a child gets scared, her first impulse is to get away from whatever frightened her. When preschoolers are asked what they should do if they get scared while a ride is moving, their universal answer is, “get off the ride”. Children are hurt every year doing exactly that.
  • Watch the ride with your child before boarding.
  • Read warning signs aloud.
  • Point out the operator and the loading/unloading locations.
  • Explain that rides sometimes stop temporarily, but that riders must never get off until the operator tells them to.
  • Talk about what to do if your child gets frightened while the ride is moving. Tell her NOT to get out of the car. Explain that amusement rides might seem scary, but they’re not dangerous as long as riders hold on tight, stay seated, and keep their hands and feet inside.
  • Tell children to hold on tightly with both hands. Solid metal lap bars and handholds are part of the safety equipment. Teach your children to use them. Many kids raised in the era of five-point car seat restraint systems don’t know that holding on is important.
  • Always use the safety equipment provided, but be aware of its limitations.
  • Ride manufacturers provide seatbelts, lap bars, and other safety equipment to reduce the risk of injury. However, many safety devices used on children’s amusement rides aren’t designed to keep young children in their seats.
  • Lap bars on Ferris Wheels and lap ropes on kiddie trains aren’t considered restraints at all. They’re designed as “psychological barriers”, an incentive to stay seated. Unfortunately parents understand psychology better than kids, so Mom sees a “restraint” and her clever child sees “a piece of metal to climb under”.
  • Solid metal lap bars only fit closely against the largest passenger in the car, often leaving young children with room to slide around. If a lap bar doesn’t fit closely, a fast-moving ride can cause a child to slip completely out from underneath the bar. Loose-fitting lap bars also allow young children to stand up on their own while a ride is moving.
  • Remember, there are no mandatory federal standards for the design of amusement rides. Amusement rides are neither childproof nor childsafe. Use good judgement when deciding whether your kids should ride.
  • Obey minimum height, age, and weight restrictions.
  • Never sneak children onto rides they’re too small or too young for. Ride manufacturers’ restrictions take into account the forces exerted by the ride and the intellectual maturity required to ride safely. A smaller/younger child may not be physically or developmentally able to stay safely seated.
  • Use the posted height and age limits as suggestions, not pass/fail criteria. Manufacturers base their guidelines on developmental timelines and height/weight ratios of children in the 50th percentile. Kids who are tall for their age may not be developmentally ready for a particular ride. Kids who are more impulsive than average need closer parental supervision.
  • Don’t put your child on a ride he’s outgrown. Maximum height and weight limits are just as important as minimum limits.
  • If you can’t count on your child to stay seated with hands and feet inside, don’t let him or her ride.
  • Watch all extremitites – including feet if the ride has open sides.
  • Excited children often stick hands, arms, feet or even their heads out the sides of amusement rides. Load children to the inside, if possible, or out the side closest to the ride operator.
  • Pay special attention as the ride slows to a stop. Children who are in a rush to be the first one off, or in a hurry to get to the next ride, may try to exit while the ride is still moving.

Use your best judgement

Park visitors may have no control over amusement park ride accidents due to mechanical reasons, but we do have control over which ones we allow our families to ride. Read through the above safety tips, and learn how you can help keep your family safe. Make an informed choice — if you see a ride that does not look safe, use your best judgement and just say no. The lives of your family are too precious to risk for even one day of fun.

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How to Buy Amusement Park Rides

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 | Permalink

by Suzanne Burns | eHow.com

Used amusement park rides can be purchased through several online businesses. This is a major purchase with an uncertain return because the rides are used, possibly in varying states of disrepair, and an extreme liability if you operate the ride and an injury occurs.

Considerations

Purchasing an amusement park ride is best left to a serious collector who intends to display the ride as a museum piece. Then there is no risk of injury involved in operating or riding the ride. As of August 2010, cheaper rides start at around $50,000 to purchase. The price rises for large rides and carousels, which are more popular with collectors.

Inspection

Have any ride you are buying inspected and installed by a ride inspection specialist. Businesses that sell rides can put you in contact with legitimate inspectors. You will need training and a permit if you do decide to operate the ride.

Investment

Most amusement park ride dealers require a 10 percent to 20 percent down payment on the purchase of a ride. Inspections will vary in cost depending on the type of ride purchased. You can sometimes work with the seller to negotiate shipping fees, as the cost to ship an amusement park ride can be exorbitant.

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