Last week a 4 year old boy drowned at an amusement park in Santa Clara, California. A teenage girl was killed in Wisconsin after falling 40 – 50 ft from a bungee-jumping ride. And several weeks ago a 13-year old girl had her ankles severed off at a Six Flags in Kentucky. What’s going on???
A reporter from the local news station called me to quote on this recent spate of accidents so I started doing some research on the regulations surrounding amusement park rides. I was horrified!
According to SafeParks, a non-profit organization that works to prevent amusement park industries, amusement park rides are the only products marketed to children that are exempt from all federal safety oversight. Child safety features mandated for other vehicles and products used by children (e.g., harnesses and lap belts in cars, strollers, bike trailers, etc.) are not required on amusement rides used by young children. Additionally, there are no standardized criteria for minimum height limits or containment systems for amusement rides approved for use by young children.
My son is now getting to the age where he wants to ride on every ride there is. He’s large for his age but these facts still make me reconsider which rides I’ll allow him to go on. And my middle daughter is extremely petite. I can’t even imagine letting her go on any rides until she’s much older.
What’s the answer? As SafeParks proposes, national standards should be passed as federal legislation. As with any other vehicle that a child rides in, proper restraining systems should be in place. But it’s also up to us as parents to be a little more mindful of the rides we allow our children to go on. Our kids need to be taught never to stand up in a ride – even if they’re scared they need to wait until the ride is over.
Were you aware of the lack of oversight for amusement park rides? Does this concern you as much as it does me? I’d love to hear your thoughts and any amusement park incidents that have happened to your family. The more we make parents aware of this, the more likely we can make a trip to the carnival a fun and safe outing!