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How safe are amusement park rides?

Amusement park rides may seem like a fun and safe activity for families in Connecticut. Most of the time, people attend parks or carnivals and ride without incident. However, these rides are not completely without risk. According to safety authorities, about 4,000 children every year are treated in emergency rooms across the country due to injuries that occurred on amusement park rides.

In a tragic accident that happened earlier this month, a 10-year-old boy was killed at a water park in Kentucky. Many water parks and other fixed amusement parks attempt to make their new rides faster, taller and more extreme than others built before them. The particular slide the boy was killed on was claimed to be the tallest in the world. Investigators do not yet know the circumstances that led to the boy’s death due to a neck injury, as well as the facial injuries of two others on the ride. A professor of industrial and systems engineering, however, said that there are no accurate tests for different wind and weather conditions that may affect safety on water slides.

Even so, fixed amusement parks, such as water parks and major theme parks, are generally much safer than the rides at temporary carnivals and fairs. These rides are overseen by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which sets safety standards for rides that are voluntary, not obligatory. Temporary rides that are improperly operated, suffer a malfunction or have not been set up correctly may pose a great danger to those who are riding.

After the water park tragedy, a safety consultant for amusement parks has said that federal officials should implement stronger safety standards for amusement park rides.

Source: USA Today, "Amusement park death highlights need for safety," Rick Jervis and John Bacon, Aug. 9, 2016

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