Who Regulates Amusement Parks and Carnival Rides?

Summer traditions include barbecues, pools, beaches, inflatables, amusement parks, water parks and parties. But for some families, those summer traditions turn tragic. In 2010, there were over 50 incidents involving serious injuries or death from accidents involving roller coasters, inflatables, go kart, bungee jumps and other amusement park type activities.

via Moonwalksforfun.com

Inflatables are starting to receive attention from investigators after several accidents involving children and at least one death. In May of this year, at a party hosted by  St. Mary’s Assyrian Church of Encino, California, several children were injured after the inflatable they were jumping in collapsed after being overloaded. And in March of 2010, a five-year-old boy was killed after being bounced from a King of the Hill inflatable at Pure Entertainment of Wichita, Kansas. Rideaccidents.com has dozens of accidents involving inflatables listed on its website, and some states have taken action to increase safety.

But not all states have taken action, and no action to monitor safety has been taken on a federal level. Most states require inspection and licensing of amusement park rides, but inflatables are not included. In a recent article by USA Today, this issue was addressed.

California is one state that has increased regulation of these devices. Some park districts, like the East Bay Park District, have created special guidelines for residents who would like to use inflatables at a park hosted party. These regulations include using a pre-approved company that has agreed to abide by certain safety protocols, such as following the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe setup, use and takedown of the devices and disallowing help from customers with setup and takedown of the devices.

At the same time, the guidelines don’t allow for staking or tethering the inflatables, requiring only that they be weighted down. Weights that aren’t enough for wind gusts, or sudden storms, that could send an inflatable flying. Such an incident occurred last month in Long Island, New York, when several inflatables started tumbling with children trapped inside. 13 people were injured, including a woman who was hospitalized with critical injuries.

In Oregon, a law was introduced this year to increase regulation, but “lawmakers failed to pass the bill, saying they didn’t want to raise fees during a recession. State officials said they will try again next year.” [Source]

More information can be found at Saferparks and Rideaccidents.