My family is in the process of planning a short getaway for July 4th (America’s birthday and mine!) to the Jersey shore for a few days. In anticipation of this trip, I have been envisioning the fun we are all going to have with my nephews. Beach, pool, lobster rolls, fireworks, and my personal favorite, the boardwalk! My 3-year-old nephew is going to have a blast.
In thinking about boardwalk fun, I remembered a surprising segment I recently caught on “World News with Diane Sawyer”. The segment was about the first real study ever conducted on children and amusement ride safety, by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Turns out the real risk in amusement ride injury may not lay in the rollercoaster accidents we see in the news, but in the smaller rides. Seriously, how dangerous could they be?
The researchers examined in detail, children who were injured on amusement rides (parks, fairs and festivals, local malls, stores, restaurants and arcades) and found that more than 4,000 children across America were injured each year on these rides. That’s more than 20 a day. After reviewing emergency records, they found that the #1 injury-causing ride was carousels (20.9% of cases). Pretty surprised to learn this. Roller coasters accounted for 10.1% of injuries and bumper cars 3.9%. The study went on to note that one third of children injured were 5 or younger and that the most common accident was falling. Hitting a body part or getting hit with something was also frequent cause for injury.
Emergency records spanning 20 years (1990-2010) were reviewed and it was found that over 90,000 children had been injured and treated, as a result of injuries suffered on these rides. Roughly 70% of these accidents occurred during the warm months of May to September. Wow, who knew?
I have always been afraid of rollercoasters and never thought about danger in children’s rides. I’m glad I caught the segment and made a little mental note in the back of my mind. I’ll be viewing rides a little differently this summer. I also won’t be pressuring my sister to “just let him ride it” once the eventual meltdown happens when he is told he cannot go on a particular ride. And although there is no reason to panic, it’s good to remember the findings of this study and take extra precaution.
Remind yourself this summer of some of the below tips, research recommended.
• Always follow all height, age, weight and health restrictions
• Follow special seating order and/or loading instructions
• Always use safety equipment (seat belts, safety bars)
• Make sure your child keeps their hands and feet inside the ride at all times
• Know your child- if they don’t listen and you don’t think they will follow the rules, keep them off
• Trust your instincts – if you are worried about the safety of the ride, choose one you think would be more appropriate
• Avoid “mall rides” – if they are over a hard, unpadded surface or if they don’t have a child restraint such as a seat belt
See you at the boardwalk!!