How to Keep Your Family Safe at Amusement Parks

Girl and boy pulling their father in amusement park

Caiaimage / Paul Bradbury / OJO+ / Getty Images 

Parents and caregivers can take a number of steps to ensure children remain safe during trips to amusement parks. By taking precautions, parents and child care providers can ensure visits to theme parks run smoothly. 

Follow Park Rules

Many park injuries happen because a child or teenager ignored park rules by climbing a fence or attempting to pile too many friends on a ride, or ignored directions from a park employee.

Read and follow the signs and the directions from workers at the park to ensure a great and safe time. 

Don't Ignore Height and Weight Guidelines

Use the same judgment in picking rides as you would when selecting toys, activities or food for kids.

Carefully read each ride's height and weight guidelines and don't try to cheat the system.

Remember that these restrictions exist for safety reasons. The joy of a three-minute ride isn't worth the risk of possible injury or death of a child.

Observe Rides First

Children should know what they will be experiencing and know how the ride may dip and turn, swing or sway, go high or drop suddenly. Answer any questions kids might have about the ride.

Don't Force Kids on Scary Rides

Kids should never be forced to go on a ride that scares them. Well-meaning parents could traumatize them, and kids who become hysterical or nearly paralyzed with fear aren't having a good time.

Ride operators report that many child injuries occur when kids attempt to get off rides or move erratically while the ride is in motion. 

Never Leave Children Unsupervised

It's difficult for parents to know how to proceed when one child wants to go on a certain ride and the other child doesn't. Young kids should have an adult chaperone with them at all times. Don't leave one child alone to take a ride with another. Too much can happen while you're away.

Establish Meeting Places

It is easy to become separated from your child, especially in large, crowded amusement park settings. Make sure your child knows your full name and cell phone number, so that in case you get separated the park can reach you (not all parks have a public-address system to make announcements).

Establish an easy-to-see place for each area of the park "just in case." Walk with your kids and show them specifically where to meet.

Make sure your kids are aware of stranger danger practices and know not to leave the established meeting site for any reason.

Point out employees and park security so your kids will know what they look like. If your child gets lost, a park employee or security officer will usually be willing to wait with them at a designated place. Larger parks sometimes have a "lost parents" section for kids and adults who become separated.

Teach Kids Safety Measures

Repeatedly remind kids about keeping their hands and feet safely inside the equipment while taking rides at the park. Injuries sometimes occur when kids try to stick out their hands and feet on rides and get hurt in the process.

Water Safety

Know your child's swimming ability and water comfort level before choosing water rides. Water parks feature fast-moving rides that can get children soaked or dunked into a pool of water at the end of the ride.

Make sure kids know how to hold their breath, are comfortable with sudden splashes, and won't panic when dropped into the pool from a slide. Be especially cautious with wave pools; always stay within arm's reach of your child. Also take precautions against water-borne illnesses, such as showering before and after entering the water and teaching kids not to swallow pool water.

Ask Questions

Ask a lot of questions before letting your child go to an amusement park on a group-sponsored field trip. Before you pay money and sign a permission slip, ask what the adult-to-child ratio will be during the trip and how adults will keep a close eye on the children.

Do any of the adults have medical training? How is money handled? What are their lost child practices? Ask these questions and others you have, and make sure that you are comfortable with the responses before you agree to the field trip.

A Word From Verywell

Trust your instinct about amusement parks and ride safety. Be cautious about letting kids ride on neighborhood carnival rides or equipment that is making odd sounds or appears old or run down. If a ride's appearance makes you uncomfortable, refuse to let your children go on it, even if they nag and beg.

By Robin McClure
 Robin McClure is a public school administrator and author of 6 parenting books.