Keeping Safe on Carnival Rides
(LARA, June 19, 2015)
With the first official day of summer approaching, the more than 40 million of us who will travel Michigan to enjoy carnival and amusement rides this season are urged to make safety a priority, especially with the kids.
“Carnival rides in Michigan are held to the highest safety standards to keep riders safe,” said Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Chief Deputy Director Shelly Edgerton. “We ask parents and riders to do their part by following ride rules and restrictions, and use all the safety equipment provided, because even one injury is one too many.”
LARA works to make Michigan a leader in ride safety, inspection and registration of amusement rides to ensure compliance with Michigan’s rules and regulations that protect citizens of all ages while riding.
Most amusement ride injuries are suffered by children under age 13 according to national data compiled by the Saferparks organization (www.saferparks.org). Kids between the ages of seven and 12 account for nearly a third of all ride accidents. The speeds, heights, rapid changes in direction and special effects can overwhelm and panic a child.
Edgerton emphasized that amusement rides are powerful machines even the “kiddie rides.” Most full-sized rides are designed with adults and teens in mind. There is increasing emphasis on the retention of children on adult rides. As an example, many Ferris wheels have had seat belts added to them to help keep kids in their seats. Catastrophic accidents can occur due to rider inexperience, immaturity and horseplay on such large machines.
“Be a cautious consumer when choosing rides,” said Edgerton. “Use good judgment when deciding if a ride is safe for your child, or safe to let them ride alone, especially when they’re looking for bigger, better, or wilder thrills. Watch the ride with your child before boarding, or ride along with them, that’s always a good idea.”
Here are a few safety tips on what you and the kids need to know before you go:
- Know the rules you have to follow; listen to verbal or recorded instructions.
- Observe all age, height and weight restrictions. Know the safest riding position for the kids.
- Never seat a child on your lap unless ride operators indicate it’s safe to do so.
- Securely latch seat belts, shoulder harness and lap bars before the ride begins. Hold on to handrails; use grab bars.
- Keep hands, arms, legs, and feet inside the ride at all times. Do not ride with hands in the air. Secure loose hair, clothing, and belongings. Never stand up on a ride.
- Stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop and you are instructed to exit.
- Patrons with heart conditions, pregnancy or back/neck injuries should heed warning signs at most parks.
- Report any unsafe behavior or conditions on a ride to a ride supervisor or manager immediately.
- Report injuries to a ride supervisor. They will assist the injured and report the injury to LARA. Contact LARA at (517) 241-9273 for more information.
LARA’s Corporations, Securities and Commercial Licensing Bureau (CSCL) licenses 890 amusement rides including water slides and go-karts, carnival rides and roller coasters. New rides for the 2015 summer season in Michigan include a rotating swing ride that rises 100 feet in the air, new carousels and rides with rotating platforms and two new portable roller coasters.
LARA inspects amusement rides annually; however, operators are required to conduct daily inspections before operation according to manufacturer criteria, national standards and state law. Michigan has one of the oldest amusement ride safety programs in the country, protecting consumers for 48 years; the first inspection was done in 1967.
Eight injuries were reported to LARA last year, compared to the estimated 50 million to 100 million rides taken in Michigan each year. The majority of amusement ride injuries result from the riders themselves and are preventable. An examination of approximately 350 ride injuries reported to LARA over a 12-year period indicated that 80 percent were caused by the rider’s actions and the remaining 20 percent were caused by ride operators, failures of the equipment, or a combination of both.
Be aware that inflatable “bounce houses,” bungee jumps and climbing walls are not regulated in Michigan. Users of these devices should follow the same recommendations and be especially alert to the conditions of the device and the attentiveness of the operators.
For more information on amusement ride safety for kids and adults go to:
Saferparks, “Kids Club” at www.saferparks.org/kids-club
Disney, “Wild About Safety” at http://disneywildaboutsafety.com/parents/theme-park-safety-tips/
SaferParks, Sharing Information for Safety Amusement Ride Thrills at www.saferparks.org
CARES (Council for Amusement and Recreational Equipment Safety) http://caresofficials.org
Michigan Amusement Safety at www.michigan.gov/amusement