The family summer vacation is a time-honored tradition, and it often includes a trip to one of our country’s incredible amusement parks.
But, while the rides and other attractions at these parks are typically safe, it pays to be vigilant, particularly if you’re visiting with children. Here are some things to keep in mind that will help make sure your family vacation is full of fun, instead of worry.
Amusement Park Ride Safety
According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), the majority of injuries on rides happen because guests have a pre-existing medical condition or don’t follow posted guidelines. IAAPA recommends that you:
- Always obey posted restrictions, including those for age, height, weight and health issues.
- Follow all instructions from park staff, as well as recorded announcements.
- Make sure children understand appropriate and safe behavior.
- Keep hands, arms, legs and feet inside rides at all times, and use the safety equipment that is provided. Don’t ever try to loosen or get free from restraints.
- Refrain from pressuring others into going on rides that make them uncomfortable.
- Report any unsafe behavior or conditions to a supervisor or manager at the park.
Water Park Guidelines
The potential for danger can increase significantly when you bring water into the equation, so the IAAPA recommends some special precautions for parks with water rides:
- Those who cannot swim and weak swimmers should wear a life vest approved by the Coast Guard; children under 4 feet tall should as well.
- As with all rides, obey posted restrictions and instructions from lifeguards and other park staff. Signal an employee or lifeguard if you see anyone who appears to be struggling.
- Children who need diapers should wear waterproof swim diapers.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has additional recommendations regarding hygiene:
- Anyone suffering from diarrhea should not swim.
- Try to avoid getting pool water in your mouth or swallowing it.
- Always shower before and after swimming, and wash hands thoroughly after using the restroom or changing diapers.
General Welfare Tips
No matter what kind of park you’re visiting — or even if you’re simply attending a public event — the following tips can help ensure your safety and good time:
- Set up an emergency meeting place, and use the buddy system. This can help in case someone gets separated from your group, and make sure children are never alone. Even if kids typically use the restroom by themselves, the unfamiliar area combined with the crowds and chaos may be too much for them to handle.
- Memorize phone numbers. Don’t rely on your mobile phone’s contact list. Commit at least one party member’s phone number to memory in case you’re lost without your phone or after your battery’s been drained. Have children do the same.
- Beat the heat. Monitor how much time children spend in the sun, bring (and use) sunscreen and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated. Hats and sunglasses may help further.
- Dress for comfort. It’s easy to log several miles while exploring a large amusement park by foot. Comfortable shoes are a must, as is weather-appropriate attire. Bags should be comfortable enough for day-long use and have several straps to help distribute the load.
- Watch where you’re going. Amusement parks often are crowded, so always be aware of what’s around you — both for your safety and that of others. Never go into restricted areas, and keep a close eye on your belongings.
Perhaps the most important tip of all is this: Know your limits — and those of the people with you. Are there health conditions you need to consider? Even high blood pressure can impact your ability to safely enjoy a ride. Does someone in your group have a disability? They may face certain restrictions, but there also might be special seats available on specific rides. Ask park staffers for assistance and guidelines.
No matter your situation, a trip to the amusement park can become a cherished family memory, so long as you don’t try to overdo it. Because having fun is what summer is all about!
Top image by Flickr user Nick Page used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.