Summer is in full swing, and that means theme parks are packed with thrill seekers of all ages. But like this video from USA Today reveals, theme parks can be dangerous. In fact, just this month a woman at a park in Texas fell to her death on the world’s steepest wooden roller coaster.
Although theme park deaths make national news, the video references a study by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) claiming it’s a rare event. The IAAPA says the chance of being seriously injured on a theme park ride is 1 in 24 million and the chance of being killed on a ride is even less, at 1 in 750 million.
But even a minor mishap can ruin a day of theme park fun. So keep our top 10 safety tips in mind the next time you head out the door for a day of amusement park adventures.
Top 10 Amusement Park Safety Tips
1. Conquering the Sun
Nothing will spoil a day at the theme park faster than an uncomfortable sun burn. Before you get to the park, apply sun screen liberally and be sure to reapply often. Remember, perspiration will reduce sunscreen protection and be aware that little ones and the elderly have particularly sensitive skin. Be at the park as soon as it opens to avoid the heat of the day.
2. Hydrate and Refuel
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, but between picking out souvenirs and enjoying the thrills, you must make time for water and food breaks. Dehydration can come on fast, so drink water (not soda or juice) throughout the day and recharge your body with healthy snacks. Consider drinking a sports drink that contains electrolytes if you sweat heavily and remember the golden rule: if your urine is dark yellow you’re not hydrating enough.
3. Avoid Restricted Areas
Don’t wander into off-limit areas. There’s a reason why certain areas of the park are restricted to employees and going there is not only dangerous, it’s likely to get you tossed from the park.
4. Listen to Your Body
You’ve been looking forward to a day at the theme park all summer, but pushing yourself beyond your limits is a recipe for injury. Plan regular breaks in shady areas and immediately find a cool location to rest if you feel light headed, faint, nauseous or exhausted. And never pressure a friend or relative to join you on a ride when they say they’re tired. Don’t get on rides that make you dizzy (like those that loop, fall, and spin) back to back. Instead, take a break by playing a carnival game or visiting a gift shop.
5. Speak Up
If you see a safety hazard or have a safety concern, notify a theme park staff member immediately. And if you ever feel your safety harness isn’t working properly, don’t second guess yourself; get off the ride.
6. Dress Appropriately
Dangling jewelry, long loose hair and baggy clothing can get caught in machinery. So leave jewelry at home, braid long hair and wear fitted clothing. Be sure to wear closed-toed shoes that have been well broken in and dress in layers so you can modify your outfit as the day becomes hotter or cooler.
7. Know Health Restrictions
If you have a health condition, check with your doctor before planning a day at the park to find out if there are any rides you should avoid. If you’re ever unsure if a ride is safe given your health condition, ask the ride operator. But keep in mind he or she isn’t a medical professional and avoiding the ride might be the best decision for your health.
8. Obey Rules
Today’s theme park rides are faster, higher and more thrilling than ever, making it even more important that you listen carefully to the instructions provided at each ride and abide by them. Make sure your children also understand and follow the rules and don’t hesitate to ask a question if you’re ever unclear about what’s allowed.
9. Make a Plan
Before you head to the park, review its layout on the Internet and make a plan about what rides and attractions you’ll visit. Doing so will not only make better use of your time at the park, it will help you and your family stay safe by ensuring you know entry/exit locations, restrooms, food and drink stands and information booths. If you’re travelling with children, discuss what they should do if they become lost and make sure young children have your name and cell number in their pocket or fastened to their clothing.
If you’re travelling in a group (even a small one) it’s a good idea to pair up members of the group as “buddies.” During “buddy breaks,” have members of the group make sure their buddy is still with the group, hydrating, eating a small snack, and seems to feel well.
If you’re one of the 297 million guests that will visit an American amusement park this year, plan properly and keep our top 10 safety tips in mind. A thrilling day of theme park fun can be the highlight of your summer!