From 1990 to 2010 amusement rides have been responsible for 93,000 injuries in children. 11,000 of those injuries are from smaller rides at malls, arcades, and restaurants. A study of these injuries was printed in Clinical Pediatrics.
Among the rides studied were roller coasters, bumper cars, merry-go-rounds, log flumes, mini-trains, and coin operated rides, but not inflatable bouncers, ball pits, slides or go-carts, among others.
Theme parks and other amusement parks with fixed-site rides accounted for 34% of the injuries; 29% occurred at carnivals, festivals and other temporary locations. A quarter of the cases didn’t have enough information to be accurately categorized.
But about 12% happened on rides in smaller locations, such as malls, restaurants and arcades.
This is one of the first studies “to identify the rides you encounter in arcades and shopping malls as being an important source of injury,” said Gary Smith, senior author of the paper and director of the Center of Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
His team analyzed all pediatric amusement-ride injury data collected from U.S. emergency departments by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).
Overall, the percentage of amusement-ride injuries requiring hospitalization or observation is less than 2%, and “that’s absolutely good new news,” Smith said. “It tells us the number of serious injuries requiring hospitalization is low.”
Children injured on “mall rides” tended to be young, and were more likely to suffer head/neck or face injuries, concussions or cuts, compared to injuries from theme park or carnival rides; 73% of “mall ride” injuries occurred when a child fell in, on, off or against the ride.
These injuries suggest the rides “may not have had restraints to (secure) the child and they may have been located over hard, unpadded surfaces,” Smith said. The design of the study did not provide that level of detail, he says, “but it’s certainly something that warrants more study to find out ways we can prevent these injuries.”
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which operates the injury surveillance system, has safety enforcement jurisdiction over mobile-site rides like those at temporary carnivals, but fixed-site rides are regulated by state or local governments.
A bill first introduced in 2007 by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., would give federal oversight to all rides, but it has not been passed.
Colleen Mangone, spokeswoman for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, an industry group, said it is reviewing the report. But “safety is the amusement park industry’s No. 1 priority,” she added. “Injuries are rare, especially in the context of the tremendous number of rides given each year.”
Mangone cited industry statistics that 300 million people visit the USA’s approximately 400 fixed-site amusement parks and theme parks a year, with 3 million injuries reported in 2011. “The likelihood of being seriously injured (defined as requiring overnight hospitalization) on a permanently located amusement park ride in the U.S. is 1 in 24 million,” she said.
Among other study findings:
• 70% of injuries occurred from May to September, with an average of 20 injuries a day during these months.
• The injury rate declined from 8.79 per 100,000 in 1991 to 4.41 per 100,000 in 2003.
• More girls were injured than boys (56% vs. 45%)
• Body areas most frequently injured were the head and neck (28%); arms (24%); face (18%); legs (17%)
Parents and caregivers should yield caution when allowing children to ride “mall rides”.
- Parents should be sure their children are old enough to follow directions and rules and remain seated with their arms, legs and head in the ride until it stops.
- Parents should also read all instructions on or near the ride before allowing their children to ride, also looking for height, age, weight, and any disability restrictions (such as seizures).
- Parents should also follow their general instincts in determining if a ride is safe enough or not.
The Brain Injury Alliance of NJ is offering a free webinar on Understanding NJ Concussion Law on April 5th from 1pm-2pm. Click here to learn more.
In honor of brain injury awareness month check out these links/stories regarding brain injury and prevention.
In honor of National Poison Prevention Month, check out these obvious (or not-so-obvious) spots where your children may access your medication. (Hint: It’s not always from the medicine cabinet.)
- Off the floor. Whether yourself or another family member realized they dropped a pill or couldn’t find it. Young (or pets) are usually the one’s to do so. Even 1 aspirin pill can be dangerous to a baby. In fact, 27% of ER cases of medication poisoning came from pills being found off the floor.
- Off the countertop, dresser, nightstand, or another table. Many of these incidents may be to strict carelessness, but for those families who have a great deal of prescriptions to take at certain times throughout the day, sometimes pill containers sit in an easily accessible area such as your kitchen counter or on their nightstand. Even if these pills are in child-proof containers, lids can still come off if they are played with or fall to the floor. 20% of ER cases were from a child grabbing medication off a tabletop or counter.
- In Mom’s purse. Do you have to take your prescriptions with you on-the-go? You may not remember you left your pills in your purse, and like most of us we leave our purses and bags in the open and down low where children can easily reach them. In fact, another 20% of ER visits regarding poisoning from pills were from children who obtained them from a bag.
- A pillbox. If you or a family member take multiple medications, maybe a pillbox is used to keep your organized. These containers do not have the same type of safety features that a childproof container does. 15% of ER visits for medication poisoning came from children who got them from a pillbox.
Simple safety precautions can prevent emergencies and accidental poisonings.
- Keep your pill in the childproof container at all times and in a place where they cannot be reached or found.
- Lock bathroom cabinets and other areas where hazardous substances are kept with childproof locks.
- Dispose of any unused or expired medication. You can view the FDA’s safe disposal info sheet here or call your municipality’s health department for information on safe disposal locations.
- Keep the poisoning control number near every phone or in a common place. 1-800-222-1222.
Find out more here.