Amusement park visits are part of many family vacations. Whether you visit Ocean Breeze Waterpark during your Virginia Beach getaway, make Busch Gardens in Williamsburg a vacation destination, or visit a different park, planning ahead for amusement park safety can help your family avoid situations that might put a damper your day. Our tips provide a quick and easy reference to use as a checklist before your family’s amusement park visit.
In addition, if the unexpected happens and a ride injury occurs, you should be aware of what to do after medical needs are addressed. In some circumstances, you may have a legal cause of action and be able to recover compensation.
1. Learn the Rules and Follow Them
Every amusement park has its own rules. Learning them before you go — and making sure your whole family understands them — will ensure that you all know the rules in advance and don’t risk violating them. If you plan ahead, you also won’t have to look for the rules when you get to the park.
Going over the rules of the park is a great way to familiarize yourself with everything you need to know about the park. At the same time, you can identify things you will need to know after you arrive. For example, knowing in advance where specific amenities are located, such as restrooms and first aid stations, will save precious time once you’re at the park. You can even decide which rides everyone wants to enjoy and map your route out for the day.
Rules about rides are particularly important. Those include age, height, weight, and health requirements for specific rides. Learn those rules and honor them. The rules are in place for your and your family’s safety. Choose rides that are age appropriate, especially for young children.
Know where restricted areas are and plan to carefully avoid them. Those areas are off limits for reasons, including the fact that they can be dangerous to patrons.
2. Dress Comfortably and Appropriately
Of course, you want to be comfortable while you’re at the park. There are also specific concerns about your family’s attire that you should take into account.
If you dress in layers, you can remove or add layers as the weather becomes warmer or cooler. Everyone should wear well-broken-in closed-toed shoes, which are not only more comfortable for walking but also safer on rides.
You should have a way to secure valuables and loose items, especially when you’re on a ride. You can wear clothes with zippered pockets or carry a zippered pouch or purse. Not only can you lose items if they fly out of a pocket or purse while you’re on a ride, but those items can also cause injuries to you or someone else if they go flying through the air.
Don’t wear loose hair, baggy clothing, or long dangling earrings or necklaces, which could get caught in machinery while you’re on or near a ride. It’s also best to leave all but essential jewelry at home, so you don’t risk losing it.
3. Agree on a Pre-Arranged Meeting Point
Before you go, choose a specific point in the park where you and your family members can meet up if you get separated. If you have young children: As soon as you get to the park, take them to the meet-up point to show them where to go if they get lost or separated from you. While you may not need to use it, having a back-up plan in place is always a good idea.
For young children, it’s a good idea to tuck a piece of paper with your name and cell phone number in the child’s pocket. As with the meeting point, it likely won’t be needed. But it’s a simple step that could end up saving you and your child needless worry.
4. Drink Water to Stay Hydrated During the Day
One essential concern during a day at an amusement park is making sure that everyone drinks water and stays hydrated. Dehydration can occur quickly, especially in hot weather. Avoid becoming dehydrated by taking water and food breaks regularly during the day. Sweet and caffeinated drinks can actually cause dehydration. Make sure everyone drinks water too.
Be alert to signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion for everyone in your group. Feeling light-headed, faint, nauseous, or suddenly exhausted or disoriented can all be signs of dehydration or overexposure to the heat. The excitement of spending a day at an amusement park can easily cause an adult or child to be inattentive to signals that the person has pushed beyond his or her limits. Continuing to go on rides in that condition can be especially dangerous.
Along with staying hydrated, protect your skin from sunburn and damage. Wear clothes and hats to cover vulnerable areas, and be sure to reapply sunscreen frequently. This protection is especially important for children, who likely won’t even realize if they start to get sunburned.
5. Stay Safe on Rides
High speed rides can exert significant gravitational forces and vibrations that rattle your whole body. No matter what the rider’s age, those quick, jerky movements can strain neck, spine, back, and other joints. Even slower rides can have sudden, quick movements. A turned or tilted head can cause even more strain than if the head is held straight, facing forward with eyes looking ahead. Allowing a short break of 20 minutes or so between rides will help young and adult bodies recover from the jostling between rides, which will help minimize the overall impact on the body.
Always check the safety latch, bar, belt, or strap on the ride yourself, to make sure it is properly secured, even if the attendant is checking them as well. Be extra careful checking safety gear for small and thin riders, who are at greater risk of not being held in place by restraints. Make sure children know to keep all body parts inside the ride and not to stand up until the ride comes to a final stop.
Never force a child or adult to go on a ride against his or her wishes or will.
What To Do If You Are Injured at an Amusement Park
No matter how careful you are about amusement park safety, accidents can occur. If you are injured on a ride — or if a family member is injured — the immediate priority is getting appropriate medical care. That may mean going to the first aid station or medical building, or it may mean calling 911.
There are a number of different ways that accidents can occur at an amusement park or water park. Our blog post on amusement park accidents has details about the types of accidents and injuries that can occur.
There are also several ways that an amusement park or another entity may be legally responsible for injuries that occur. If the injuries are significant, so that substantial medical expenses result and long term care and rehabilitation are necessary, you should talk with a personal injury attorney about whether you may be able to recover compensation for your losses.
Most personal injury attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation, so you have nothing to lose by discussing your case. Importantly, you should not discuss your injuries or accident with any insurance company representatives before you meet with a lawyer. The insurance company’s goal is to try to settle your case for the smallest possible amount. Discussing the case with an adjuster could harm your ability to recover the full compensation you deserve.
Talk with a Virginia Beach Attorney About Your Amusement Park Injuries
An amusement park accident that causes serious injuries is likely to be a complex case both factually and legally. Having an experienced, knowledgeable personal injury attorney to represent you is absolutely essential. If your accident or injuries occurred in Virginia, The Jeff Brooke Team has the right experience to analyze your situation and recommend a course of action.
Having a local attorney who knows the laws and local practices can make a big difference in the outcome of your claim. If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries at a Virginia amusement park, water park, or other entertainment facility, we are here to help. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.