On Sunday, July 26, 2015, The Tennessean ran a story about an accident on a swing ride in Bowling Green Kentucky. The details were limited, but we know that 12 people were treated for injuries, and the chances are good that some of those 12 were children. The ride, called “the Jitterbug,” tipped over on its side, and an investigation is currently under way to determine why the ride failed, given that it passed its yearly inspection.

This story reminds us that an accident can happen at any time, and that as parents we may not be in a position to stop it. Thankfully, no one seems to have sustained any critical injuries – but that doesn’t mean that a serious injury wasn’t likely. Amusement park rides are always a bit risky; hundreds if not thousands of kids and adults ride them every day in the nicer months, putting a lot of pressure on gears, tracks and safety equipment. It is up to us to protect our little ones when we take them to the fair, the beach or the amusement park.

Avoiding an accident on a ride

While the event at Beech Bend Amusement Park in Bowling Green may have been a “fluke” that was beyond the control of the operators – only time and a thorough investigation will tell us whether or not there was negligence involved – there are a few things we can do to protect ourselves and our siblings, children and loved ones:

  1. Do not be afraid to back out. It can be hard to say “no” after standing in line for a ride all day, but if you get to the front of the line and something looks wrong to you, trust your instinct and walk away.
  2. Double check your safety equipment. Lap bars and shoulder harnesses must be secured tightly and correctly. Make sure that any children on the ride with you are properly secured, and then double check your own safety equipment.
  3. Read the warnings on the rides. If the ride says a certain height or weight is required, then it must be obeyed – even if your children “really, really, really want to go on!” A child who is too small for a ride risks slipping through the safety equipment and falling. If you are pregnant, avoid rides that will flip you upside down, jostle you back and forth, or involve steep drops. In fact, best to avoid the rides altogether. The same goes for people who suffer a heart condition or epilepsy.
  4. Don’t ride in the rain. Water on the tracks is dangerous; it’s also dangerous on the hard plastic seats that most rides have. If you see thunder and lightning, stay as far away from the tall rides as possible – just in case.
  5. Take plenty of breaks. If you’re on coasters that jostle you around all day, it can take a toll on your body. Wait for a little bit between rides, to give yourself time to get your balance and equilibrium back.
  6. Wear sunscreen. Sure, sunscreen won’t make a ride safer – but it’ll keep you and your children from getting a nasty and dangerous sunburn while you’re walking around in the sun all day.

Amusements parks are supposed to be fun. We want all of you to have as much of that fun as possible; we just want you to be safe and injury-free, too.

For more information about injuries at amusement parks, or to learn more about our services, please contact the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm. Our offices in Nashville, Gallatin and Knoxville help us serve injury victims throughout Northern Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee.