The time for planning fun family summer outings has begun, which means it’s time to consider family safety at amusement parks. Some of my favorite summertime memories include spending the entire day at the local amusement park. But now, as a parent, the thought of taking my child to the amusement park is a little scary. Not only due to a new fear of heights, but because there are so many safety factors to consider.
If you haven’t considered some of these tips, it’s okay – you’re not alone! With the excitement of the day, sometimes safety planning takes a backseat. With that said, we know that prevention and preparedness can make a world of difference, so brushing up on safety measures beforehand is well worth your time. It is also worthwhile to review the website or social media site of the park you are visiting, as they may contain important updates and advisories.
Some of these tips may be unnecessary depending on your situation – your child(ren) ‘s age, how many other adults are with you, the weather, your familiarity with the park – but here are six factors to consider to stay safe during your time at amusement parks.
Strangers and Getting Separated
Becoming separated from your child while in the park is a common fear. Here are some strategies to prevent separation and prepare for quick reunification if you become separated.
- Talk with your child beforehand about not leaving the park with anyone they did not come with unless they have talked with you about it first.
- Revisit what is a stranger with your child – this can be in whatever language you’ve used before, just provide a quick refresher.
- Have a secret code word with your child – if another person doesn’t have the code word, they should not go with them.
- Show your child what uniform park workers wear so they can identify a trustworthy person to ask for help
- Have an action plan and meeting place in case you become separated. For older kids who may want to explore on their own, consider scheduling times to meet at this place in person throughout the day.
- Consider using a location tracker – Jiobit or Apple air tags are a couple of examples.
- Consider a write-on peel and stick tattoo like Safetytat, or a tag with your contact information laced into shoelaces
- At nighttime, use glow sticks on the ankles or wrists to help with visibility
- Use the buddy system and make sure a child is never on their own, including while riding the rides.
- Take a photo of your group before entering the park. It’s easy to forget what someone is wearing, especially in a large group, so the photo can be a good reference in case a group member becomes lost.
Check the weather the day before and plan accordingly. Even if the weather forecast is cloudy, apply sunscreen to avoid sunburns – apply 20 minutes before your adventure starts and every 1.5-2 hours after that. Check out these articles for more information on sunscreen. If it rains, staying warm can be more difficult, so bring an extra layer and a set of dry clothes.
If your child is feeling unwell, consider rescheduling. It may seem as if they can power through, but they are at higher risk of dehydration and exhaustion if not 100%. It’s also important to consider avoiding contracting illness while at the park. Follow your local and park guidelines for staying illness-free, and know that being more conservative is always okay if that’s what you feel most comfortable with. If you can carry hand sanitizer to use before/after a ride or cleaning wipes for the parts of the rides your child may touch, consider doing so. The park may also have protocols in place, so check out their website for current prevention measures.
Comfort is key for both you and your children, especially footwear. Closed-toed shoes or sandals that strap on are best. Avoid loose-fitting clothing as it can get caught in gates and rides. If you have a child with long hair, consider braids or updos for the same reason.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Even on a cooler day, you will be doing a lot of walking and risk dehydration. Consider bringing your own water bottle (if allowed). If you treat your child to sodas or sugary snacks, encourage them to also have some water before or after to ensure proper hydration and prevent stomach upset.
Follow the Rules
It may seem straightforward, but it is worth stating – follow the park rules! Don’t go in areas that are blocked off, follow the height and weight restrictions, and pay attention to any signage or special instructions about a ride you’re about to board. If a child seems scared to go on a ride, don’t force it. Observe the ride and explain to them what may happen, but if they are still uncomfortable, try moving on to the next stop. Also, empower your child to speak up if something feels wrong. For example, if they feel like their belt is loose, let them know to tell the ride operator.
Hopefully, these tips can empower you to be present and worry-free during your time there!