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July 17, 2012 > Safe thrills at amusement parks this summer

Safe thrills at amusement parks this summer

By DelMar Laury

In 2009, approximately 280 million guests visited amusement facilities in the United States and safely enjoyed 1.7 billion rides according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. A majority of health and safety mishaps at amusement parks can be prevented. Before you attend your next family day at an amusement park, take these tips into consideration so you have a safe and fun day.

Before you get to the park:
* More amusement park visitors suffer from sunburn, heat rash, heat exhaustion and heatstroke than all other injuries. Wear sunscreen and apply it often. If you are arriving at the park early to beat the lines, apply sunscreen before you leave the house. Re-apply more sunscreen after water rides or perspiring heavily.
* Pay close attention to what the weather is going to be like when you will be at the park. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes and socks and dress accordingly for the weather and rides. If you plan on going on water rides, wear clothes that dry fast or take clothes to change into.
* Before you get into the park and in line for the rides, hydrate yourself and your family with plenty of water. This can help prevent heat-related illnesses. Your body can quickly dehydrate in the heat so be sure to stop at water fountains in the park frequently.

Safety while at the park:
* When you arrive, make a plan with your group for where you will meet if you get separated. Also schedule meeting times to re-connect with your group.
Take a photo of any children in your group with your phone when you arrive at the park. If a child gets separated from the group, a photo will help police find them because they will be aware of exactly what the child is wearing, and how they look that day.
Don't leave your children alone, especially while taking restroom breaks, eating and standing in line for a ride. Ensure that when your child gets on a ride, even if you are not riding, that they load safely and are secured in the seat. Wait at the ride's exit for your child to unload from the completely stopped ride.
* Be alert to exits and emergency stations. Give everyone a map so they will be able to locate important areas such as the First Aid Centers, restrooms and the main gates.
* Follow all park rules. If you have small children with you, stay in age-appropriate areas. If you are pregnant or have certain medical conditions, some rides might not be safe for you.
* Carry minimal cash and leave valuable personal items that could be easily lost or stolen at home.
* Never enter a restricted area. If you lose an item when on a ride, ask for an employee to help you retrieve it.

Ride safety:
* Communicate with your group about ride safety when entering the park. It is easy to become distracted by the excitement of the day.
* Hold on tight. Handles and safety bars are there for a reason. Use them to keep your body positioned correctly in the ride and to stay in your seat.
* Always fasten your seatbelt or harness tightly. If you do not feel comfortable in the ride, ask the ride attendant for assistance.
* Sit up straight and face the proper direction on the ride.
* Read warning signs and follow instructions given by the ride operators.

Test runs of rides happen throughout the day at theme parks to ensure safety and correct operation. If you have any safety questions or concerns about the theme park you are visiting, including what the weather will be like or information about a certain ride, be sure to visit the park's website, call their customer service hotline, or ask the ride attendant for assistance.


DelMar Laury is a Vice President at AlliedBarton Security Services.

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