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Protect your kids from unsafe amusement park rides

Illinois parents often struggle with finding activities in which to engage their kids on the long summer days that stretch into warm, starlit evenings. One popular pastime is to load up the kids and head to an amusement park or local fair or carnival.

Most children, tweens and teens love to spin and flip around on the rides that can swoop down from dizzying heights only to soar skyward once again. But how safe are these rides?

Parents can keep kids safer on rides

Accidents can and do occur on the rides at amusement parks and street fairs alike. In Illinois, amusement rides fall under the auspices of the state Department of Labor (DOL). All must pass an initial inspection and then an annual one in order to be open to the public.

But parents can help keep their kids safer by doing the following:

  • Observe the ride with your child before climbing aboard. Make sure that both you and your child understand what the ride will do first. They should be prepared if it's going to flip them upside down or spin them around repeatedly.
  • Never coerce frightened kids to get on a ride. Even a sedate Ferris wheel can become deadly for a child in the midst of a panic attack. A frightened child could unintentionally release a safety bar and fall out of the ride.
  • Always abide by the age height and weight restrictions for rides. These are not suggestions. The restrictions are designed to protect your child and others riding with them.
  • Make sure kids know where to enter and exit. The exit point of a ride is likely to be different from the entrance, so make sure young children understand how to get off a ride safely.
  • Sit the smallest children on the closed side of a ride. If there is a safety lapse, sitting on the inner side of a ride is a safer position.
  • Observe the ride operator secure your child in the ride. Make sure that your child is buckled or belted in and that all safety features are deployed.
  • Loose clothing, jewelry and even long hair can be hazards on rides. Clip long hair back with barrettes or ponytail holders and make sure that no clothing or laces can get caught up in the machinery.

If your child winds up injured from an amusement park ride, you will need to act as their advocate and seek medical care and compensation for any injuries or other damages.

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