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Are Carnival Rides Safe?

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At a Cinco de Mayo festival, an 11-year-old with bright red hair boarded a spinning carnival ride. As the ride started spinning, the most terrifying thing happened. Her hair got caught in the spinning mechanism and she began to scream. A woman passing by saw the child being tormented by the ride and demanded the ride be stopped.

It took more than five minutes for the operator to finally stop the ride, and he fled as the ride began to slow. The woman had to try to stop it with her hands and was horrified to find the child had been scalped by the carnival ride. The girl survived, but her scalp had to be reattached. She faces a hard recovery, a possible lack of facial muscle control and vision loss.


Now that summer’s here and school is out, amusement parks and carnivals will fill up with excited thrill-seekers anxious to experience high speeds and steep drops. However, these rides can be dangerous and can cause fatal accidents, especially when carnival rides malfunction or are not operated properly. Most of these rides are assembled quickly on unstable ground and are operated by local teenagers, seasonal workers, or temporary workers who may not be familiar with the safety hazards or dangers carnival rides can pose.

According to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, there is an average of 2,500 carnival ride-related injuries each year, and unfortunately, two-thirds of those injuries happen with children. However, there are steps you can take to keep your child safe at a carnival, including the following:

  • Always check the ride for a permit sticker
  • Talk to children beforehand so they know what to expect from the ride and know to ask for help if something unexpected happens
  • Always obey height, weight and age requirements. If your child seems borderline on requirement, it’s best to avoid that ride
  • Make sure your child listens to the operator and follows all instructions
  • Keep both arms and legs inside the ride
  • Make sure your child does not bring a selfie stick onto the ride or take photos, as injuries have been known to result from either on carnival rides

Unfortunately, the number of accidents that occur at carnivals are underreported and not widely publicized. Those who are injured in carnival ride accidents are sometimes quickly paid settlements in exchange for little or no publicity that could draw attention to it and continue operating an unsafe ride. There must be more regulation and transparency within this industry so that people can be made better aware of the risks associated with carnival rides.

Stanley A. Davis is a personal injury attorney who helps accident victims in Nashville, Tennessee.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

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