CNN

Before you go to an amusement park, read this

Mar 30, 2018, 12:51 AM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 4:00 pm
A stock image of a ferris wheel at an amusement park....
A stock image of a ferris wheel at an amusement park.

(CNN) — Two years after a child was decapitated on the world’s tallest water slide in Kansas, investigators revealed this week that they found design flaws and unreported injuries at the site.

The death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab and the the indictment of several people in the case has put a spotlight on amusement park safety. While the amusement park industry says its facilities are safe, just how often do accidents happen and what kind of oversight is there?

Here’s what you need to know:

Thousands of injuries happen every year

In 2016, emergency rooms saw 30,900 injuries associated with amusement attractions nationwide, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The number of injuries for last year are not yet available, according to Elizabeth Klinefelter, a spokeswoman for the commission.

That number includes rides for both mobile and fixed-site parks. Fixed-site parks refer to permanent locations such as Disney and Six Flags while mobile parks move from one location to the next.

Several deaths have been reported

The commission said it’s aware of 22 deaths nationwide associated with amusement attractions since 2010. That number excludes fatalities at water parks or water slides, such as the 2016 death of Caleb Schwab in Kansas.

Federal oversight is limited

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission once regulated both fixed-site amusement parks and mobile carnivals.

But in the 1980s, Congress revoked that authority for fixed-site parks (such as Disney and Six Flags theme parks), allowing them to be under state or local government control. It kept federal regulation in place for mobile carnivals.

For fixed-site amusement parks, there is not one body nationally that oversees regulation — instead that is left to state and local governments. But not every state took up regulation of amusement parks

“Currently 44 of 50 states regulate amusement parks. The six without state oversight are Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah. These states contain few, if any amusement parks,” the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions says on its website.

Ride inspections vary by state

Amusement parks are so loosely regulated in some states, Six Flags was in charge of its own investigation in the 2013 death of a woman in its facility.

A coordinated federal effort to collect data is needed to ensure safety at amusement parks, said Tracy Mehan of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

“Many parents either assume that the rides at amusement parks are safe and that they’re being inspected, or they don’t even stop to think about how safe they might be,” Mehan said last year.

“So we want parents to learn in their state how rides are being inspected, by whom, and how often, so they can make the decision for themselves whether or not they want to take that risk before they go on the ride.”

Congressman Edward J. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has called for greater regulation of amusement parks, arguing it would help prevent injuries.

The amusement park industry says that state regulation is the best way to handle safety. They argue that there are already many layers that keep riders safe, including mechanical and design standards, state and local governments, insurance companies and private safety firms.

Hundreds of millions visit amusement parks

Nearly 335 million people visit amusement parks in the US each year, according to the International Association for Amusement Parks.

But the likelihood of suffering a serious injury that would lead to an overnight stay at a hospital is one in 16 million, the group said last year.

The organization conducts an annual safety survey, with the latest one published last year. Its survey shows that in 2016, there were 1,253 injuries among people who went on rides. In 2015, the number was 1,508. The report does not include any fatalities, and only focuses on amusement rides on fixed sites.

“Based on the number of people that go to amusement parks each year, the relative number of injuries is, fortunately, small,” Dr. Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, said last year. “But there’s still potential for serious injuries.”

The International Association for Amusement Parks only collects safety data on fixed-site amusement parks. It does not provide data on amusement parks that move from one location to the other.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

CNN

FILE: SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  Vladimir Putin, President of Russia speaks during the Pr...
Joshua Berlinger and Olga Voitovych, CNN

Ukraine is hitting Russia hard in the regions Moscow is trying to seize

Vladimir Putin sought to finalize the formalities of its claim to four Ukrainian regions, none of which are fully controlled by Russia anymore.
12 hours ago
FILE: North Koraen Leader Kim Jong Un (Photo by Korea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images)...
Yoonjung Seo, Emiko Jozuka, Brad Lendon and Simone McCarthy, CNN

North Korea launches missile over Japan, sending residents to shelter

Japan urged residents to take shelter early Tuesday morning after North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile over the north of the country.
2 days ago
The competitors allegedly used fillet and lead balls to weigh down their walleye. Anglers win based...
Zoe Sottile, CNN

Cheating scandal at Ohio tournament rocks competitive fishing world

The would-be winners of almost $29,000 at an Ohio fishing tournament were disqualified on Friday after it was discovered their fish were stuffed with lead weights and fish fillets.
2 days ago
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell greets the crowd during a "Save America" rally at Alaska Airlines Center ...
Dan Berman, CNN

Supreme Court allows defamation lawsuit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to proceed

Dominion Voting Systems' defamation lawsuit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell can move forward after the Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider Lindell's attempt to block the case.
2 days ago
A solar panel system is seen in Gainesville, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)...
Rachel Ramirez, CNN

Completely solar community endured Hurricane Ian with no loss of power and minimal damage

Completely solar community Babcock Ranch endured Hurricane Ian with no loss of power and minimal damage
3 days ago
Arema football club supporters light candles as they pray for the victims on October 02, 2022 in Ma...
Masrur Jamaluddin, Heather Chen, Raja Razek, Jake Kwon and Kareem El Damanhoury, CNN

At least 130 killed in Indonesia soccer stadium stampede

Arema football club supporters light candles as they pray for the victims on October 02, 2022 in Malang, Indonesia. A stampede for the exits after tear gas was released has resulted in at least 170, media reports said, with many still injured in hospitals.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Before you go to an amusement park, read this