Sometimes it’s a mechanical pony. Sometimes it’s a small-scale race car. It might be at the mall or outside the supermarket—any prime territory to amuse and divert little ones while mom or dad needs to get the errands done.
Usually, it’s mission accomplished, but sometimes someone gets hurt.
As reported by CBSnews.com, between 1990 and 2010 nearly 93,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency rooms because of ride-related injuries. More than 7 in 10 such injuries occurred from May through September; about 20 injuries occurred daily during the summer months.
The study, published in Clinical Pediatrics, analyzed child injuries on rides found in amusement parks, fairs, festivals, arcades, restaurants, stores and malls. More than 4,400 ride-related injuries send kids to the ER every year, many of which occurred outside of traditional amusement park settings.
Researchers found that kids who use "mall rides" might face a higher risk of head, neck or face injuries or concussions.
In a news release, study author Gary Smith, professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine said, "Injuries from smaller amusement rides located in malls, stores, restaurants and arcades are typically given less attention by legal and public health professionals than injuries from larger amusement park rides, yet our study showed that in the U.S. a child is treated in an emergency department, on average, every day for an injury from an amusement ride located in a mall, store, restaurant or arcade. We need to raise awareness of this issue and determine the best way to prevent injuries from these types of rides."
Amusement parks feature "fixed-site rides"; fairs or festivals feature "mobile rides"; those at an arcade, strip mall or restaurant are "mall rides." They’re subject to different oversight.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission oversees mobile rides at fairs, but state or local governments regulate fixed-rides at amusement parks (see our blog about amusement park ride safety). The study found that 1 in 3 injuries occurred on a fixed-site ride; 29 in 100 on mobile rides and 12 in 100 on mall rides. Although they represent the smallest percentage of injuries, they are under the most direct control of parents, so probably are the easiest injuries to avoid.
Most injuries were caused by a fall—nearly 1 in 3 injuries reported over the 20-year span; 18 in 100 were caused by being hit by something while riding or by hitting a part of the body on the ride.
Head and neck injuries accounted for 28 in 100 injuries; nearly 1 in 4 injuries involved arms; the face was involved in18 in 100, and legs accounted for 17 in 100. Soft-tissue injuries, such as bruises, were common, as were sprains, cuts and broken bones.
Although injuries serious enough to require hospitalization were relatively rare, they are more common during the summer—one occurs about every three days.
Because nearly 3 in 4 mall ride injuries occur when a child falls, parents should ensure that these rides have restraints, especially if they are located on hard surfaces, which they invariably are. In addition:
- Follow all posted height, age, weight and health restrictions.
- Follow any special seating order and/or loading instructions.
- Use safety equipment such as seat belts and safety bars.
- Keep the hands and feet inside the ride at all times.
- Know your child: If you don't think he or she will follow the rules, give that ride a pass.
- Follow your instincts: If you don’t trust the ride, stay away.