California Shows Dedication To Ensuring Theme Park Safety

Posted on July 29, 2013

A roller coaster accident in Texas last week captured the eye of the nation, with some officials even stating the need for laws that could be put in place at the national level to govern amusement attractions.  Many people worry about the safety of attractions in their own states, especially those 17 that don’t have any dedicated agency focused on amusement park safety.

California is not one of those states, and in fact has numerous safeguards in place to protect visitors.  With some of the most high-profile theme parks in the entire world, the need for safety is readily apparent, and in 2000, a law was passed which designated a Permanent Amusement Ride Safety Inspection Program.

This program lays out the governing authority afforded inspectors and the steps that purveyors of permanent amusement attractions (meaning state fairs and similar traveling operations may be subject to different restrictions) have to follow in order to open their doors every morning.

For one thing, the law strengthens reporting procedures so that the totality of circumstances are fully explored by the relevant parties.  Any injury requiring medical attention exceeding what would be possible with a first aid kit has to be reported, and the scene of the incident is to be maintained as is until a government investigation can take place.

In addition, and as a way to ensure that safety doesn’t grow lax at any point, every theme park is subject to yearly inspections that they aren’t told of beforehand.  These surprise inspections are designed to turn up any safety issues that might be present in the ride environment.  Records of the rides are also carefully analyzed during these inspections.

With this type of oversight, accidents at permanent attractions may be rarer than what you might expect in other states, but they can and do occur.  Thankfully, there are precautions that visitors can take to protect themselves, and the report linked to above explains what those steps are.

For one thing, visitors ought to restrict their travels to only those areas sanctioned by the theme park.  When you head backstage, you expose yourself to potential dangers that park guests were never meant to be near.  One instance where you might be tempted to climb a fence or otherwise enter a restricted area is if you drop something.  But doing so can lead to a serious injury if your path takes you near a ride.  Instead, tell an employee, who should be able to retrieve your item later to be picked up at lost and found.

Further encourage safety by staying in your ride vehicle while in motion, making sure to keep your hands and feet inside.  Stay looking forward on fast rides, and don’t push a companion to go on a ride they’re afraid to go on.  A truly frightened person may attempt to extricate themselves from a safety harness, and that’s not good.

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