The water park industry is full of diverse and innovative rides that provide kids, teenagers, and adults of all ages with much entertainment and excitement. However, these aquatic forms of amusement and relief from the heat have caused more injuries and fatalities than most people realize or would like to know.
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the safety of patrons at water parks and other theme parks. Even if you think you’d rather not know about the potential risks of a water slide, it may be in your best interest to do some research and find out. Part of the challenge with this is that little information and statistics are available. Hopefully, this changes along with the creation of safety regulations to monitor the design, maintenance, repair, and operation of water park rides and all amusement park rides.
Lack of Safety Enforcement
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) doesn’t have authority to maintain the safety of rides permanently fixed to a site. Instead, the organization only has authority over mobile rides that travel, like the ones found at County Fairs and carnivals. This is in spite of a CPSC report in 2005 demonstrating that injuries on fixed-site amusement park rides from 1997 to 2004 increased by nearly 25 percent as the number of park visitors only increased 9.3 percent.
Exempting fixed site amusement parks and water parks from federal regulation is a grave mistake, and far too many lives are negatively affected by such disregard for consumer safety.
The World Water park Association (WWA), which is the prime water park organization in the United States, has estimated that there are more than 1,000 water parks and similar establishments across the nation. The organization also estimates that 80 million people visited water parks in 2011. How can the safety of millions simply be brushed off as if it doesn’t matter at all? Profits. The water park industry is highly profitable, yet neglects to ensure that paying and trusting customers are as safe and informed about dangers as possible.
Types of Water park Rides
- Water Slide
- Wave Pool
- Water Coaster
- Inflatable Floats
- Speed Slide
- Inner Tubing Rides
- Leisure Rivers
Causes of Waterpark Accidents
- Improper warnings/signage
- Inaccurate or failure to enforce weight and height limits
- Water slides can shoot people into pools faster than they can take a deep breath
- Rides demand more physical strength and control than riders have
- Ride failure
- Poor or nonexistent maintenance
- Lifeguard oversight
One of the main problems that cause injury and death on water park rides is that patrons can’t anticipate how their bodies will respond to the components or conditions of a ride. If a rider doesn’t know how to react or adjust and control their body, then they may suffer serious injury or worse, death.
Water flow, water depth levels, and rider timing are all aspects of water park rides that ride operators and water park management may neglect or fail to properly control.
Exposing the Dangers
A false sense of security seems to be prominent in the water park industry. However, just because a person isn’t traveling at high speeds several feet in the air and upside down doesn’t mean that he or she is safe on a water park ride or in a water park pool. Many would argue that the dangers are just as great, if not more so, due to the unpredictable nature of how the conditions of the water and the framework of the person riding. By spreading awareness of the many risks involved with water park rides, consumers will be more informed about their safety and become advocates for the water park industry creating stricter safety rules to prevent injury and death.