It's officially summertime. And each year the warm weather brings thousands of people out to amusement parks. When people visit these parks and carnivals, they expect visitor safety will be prioritized by ride operators and park staff. However, this is not always the case.
The Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, compiled information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding the rates of emergency room visits from children who are injured on amusement park rides. The study documented instances over a 20-year period. Researchers analyzed various types of rides, ranging from fixed-site rides (rides at major amusement parks) to mobile rides (rides at local carnivals, traveling carnivals, state fairs, shopping malls etc.). The findings of the study were alarming.
Experts found that 70% of these injuries occurred during summer months. More importantly, they found that approximately 4,400 injuries occur each year to children under the age of 18, this equates to about 20 injuries per day from the months of May through September. The injuries spanned from minor to serious injuries, which included injuries to the head, face, arms and legs. Soft-tissue injuries were the most common. There were several instances of serious injuries and even fatalities provided in the study.
An incident involving a young girl recently falling to her death on a water ride in Birmingham shocked the world and has re-initiated conversations about amusement park and carnival ride safety. According to London authorities, 11-year-old Evha Jannath fell off of a ride called “Splash Canyon” at family owned theme park Drayton Manor. The ride consists of 21 rubber boats that can sit up to six people. The boats twist and turn through wild rapids within a makeshift jungle. Details regarding the girl's inflicted injuries have not yet been released; however, investigators suspect that the ride may have malfunctioned.
Jannath's fall is not an isolated incident. Several deaths resulting from ride malfunctions have happened in the United States. A few years back a woman fell to her death on a roller coaster at Six Flags in Texas. According to family members and spectators, she asked a ride operator to check her lap belt because she worried that it wasn't fastened properly.
As a result of the current trend of injuries, individuals are demanding new regulations to make these rides safer. But federal agencies claim that implementing these regulations will not be an easy endeavor. Scott Wolf, the spokesman for the U.S. Product Safety Commission said that there isn't much the commission can do.
“Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has jurisdiction over mobile rides, regulation of fixed-side rides is currently left to state or local governments, leading to a fragmented system,” he said. “A coordinated national system would help us prevent amusement-ride-related injuries through better injury surveillance and more consistent enforcement of standards.”
Wolf mentioned that these efforts would require extensive cooperation from the government. But parents should uphold safety standards to maximize rider safety. Experts encourage visitors to follow rider guideline and to trust their instincts when it comes to getting on amusement park rides.