Find the Ride that Fits
- Industry standard restraint systems on kiddie and family rides may not always fit small children as well as they fit older kids and adults. Injury risk rises if the containment system doesn’t fit closely enough against a child’s body to hold him in place.
- Young children may slide down under the lap bar or pull their feet up onto the seat, putting them into a position where they are at risk of ejection.
- A child who isn’t securely restrained may become frightened at the feeling of instability, or confused as the ride comes to a temporary stop, and try to stand up or leave the ride.
- Young children may be unable to reach the floor to brace with their feet on family rides, and this can cause them to slide into an unsafe position.
- When an adult and a small child share a single adjustable-position lap bar, the bar will fit closely against adult and leave the child under-restrained. Some ride owners have solved the safety problem by adding a lap belt as a secondary restraint, or installing thick foam padding around the lap bar to improve the fit for the smallest rider.
- Riders who are significantly larger or taller than average may have trouble fitting comfortably in rigid restraint systems. Bruising can occur. In rare cases, an aggressive ride in too-tight restraints can break a rib or injure internal organs.
For safety’s sake, make sure the ride fits the rider
- Look for rides with individually-adjustable restraints for each rider. They tend to be safer than those with fixed-position lap bars or a single bar used for multiple riders.
- Minimum height limits are not a reliable measure of an amusement ride’s suitability for young children. If the ride looks big, fast or scary, carries riders higher than a few feet vertical, or operates in the dark, don’t let your young children ride without an adult. Most amusement ride restraints are easy for a child to get out of. If your child panics and tries to get off while the ride is moving, you will be too far away to help and the operator may not be able to safely stop the ride in time to avert an accident.
- Don’t put young children on rides designed for older riders. Timid riders may panic on rides, even those that look quite tame to an adult. Never tease or bully a child into boarding a ride that frightens them. As a general rule, ride restraints fit less securely on young children than they do on adults, and children have less experience anticipating and bracing themselves against the strong forces exerted on amusement rides. A ride that you remember as being fun and fairly tame may be a risky choice for your first-grader to ride on alone, even if he is a “big boy” now.
- Don’t put older children on rides they’ve outgrown. Risktakers may be tempted to horseplay on slow “boring” rides. Even the tamest kiddie rides can cause serious injury to riders who don’t stay properly positioned.
- If a ride feels too big or too small for you or your child, choose another. Each park or carnival offers a variety of amusement ride experiences. Look for the ones that fit you and your family members.