With summer fast-approaching, thrill seekers across the state are soon going to be flocking to fairgrounds and parking lots across North Carolina for a myriad of state fairs, carnivals and amusements.
For most patrons, food is the main reason they come. Still, it’s estimated at least half will take their chances on a ride.
But are these rides really safe? There are numerous headlines that seem to indicate it isn’t. For example, ABC News reported a teen girl was killed after she was ejected from a spinning carnival ride at a local church parking lot. Two other teens were seriously injured. In another case out of Nebraska, a young girl was scalped when her hair was caught in a spinning ride.
WRAL.com recently explored the safety track record of these sites and examined whether North Carolina parents and patrons should be concerned.
Industry leaders insist that these kinds of personal injuries at carnivals are very rare. Research from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does seem to back this. Researchers say less than 1 percent of those who suffer injury on a carnival ride necessitate an overnight hospital stay. Another analysis by the Outdoor Amusement Business Association indicated the chance of a serious injury on a carnival ride is 1 in 9 million.
Findings in a 2013 study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics revealed an average of 4,423 carnival ride emergency room visits each year at a single children’s hospital in Columbus, Ohio between 1990 to 2010. That worked out to a rate of 6.24 injures per 100,000 children. Roughly 1.5 percent of those required hospitalization.
However, that may be of little comfort to the parents and children grappling with the painful and debilitating aftermath of such accidents. In the case of the Nebraska girl who was injured when her long hair got stuck in a ride, she is only 11 and will likely suffer a lifetime of vision problems and nerve damage.
Federal officials are investigating the incidents.
Fair officials, meanwhile, say safety is their No. 1 priority. The general manager of the Carolina State Fair reported that safety has to be taken seriously by the industry or else they will someday not have a product that appeals to people. Still, he said while precautions are taken, “Accidents happen.”
Our Charlotte personal injury lawyers don’t see it that way. Accidents do happen, but not because they are inevitable. They happen because someone was careless, reckless and negligent. They happen because makers of these machines don’t produce top-quality rides. They happen because mechanics are lazy with repairs. They happen because ride operators are lax with the rules.
Still, there may be ways patrons can keep themselves safe. Industry leaders recommend:
- Keeping the selfie stick at home. Some injuries have resulted from patrons leaning out to snap a photo dropping their phones onto people standing below.
- Obeying the rules. Don’t stand in a seated ride, rock in a capsule or hang limbs out of rides.
- Abiding the height requirements. No matter how well a safety restraint is made, it won’t work if the person seated in it is too small. Most guidelines require riders to be somewhere between 42 inches to 48 inches.
- Never force a scared child onto a ride. A poll of preschoolers revealed a significant number, when asked what to do if they got scared while the ride was moving, answered, “Get off the ride.” Many children are injured doing just that.
As for the most dangerous carnival rides for children, the Clinical Pediatrics study revealed the most perilous were the:
- Roller Coasters
- Bumper Cars
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
How Safe Are Carnival Rides? May 23, 2016, By Jennifer Graham, Deseret News
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