Twenty children are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms every day during the summer months for injuries involving rides at amusement parks, fairs, malls, and other venues according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.
But the study’s researchers found that most of the injuries don’t occur on the big, scary rides, but the seemingly harmless carousel.
Analyzing emergency room records, the study’s researchers found that roller coasters accounted for 10 percent of all amusement park injuries to children. Bumper cars accounted for about 4 percent of the total injuries. But 21 percent of the injuries occurred on carousels, and thus one-third of those injured were 5 years old or younger.
The study, conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, found falls were the most common type of amusement park injury (32 percent). Eighteen percent of the injuries were attributed to hitting a part of the body while on a ride or being hit by something while on the ride.
The researchers found that a total of 92,885 children were treated in emergency rooms for amusement-ride related injuries from 1990-10 2010, an average of 4,423 injuries per year. Seventy percent of the injuries occurred in the warm weeks between May and September. Most of the serious injuries requiring hospitalization also occurred during that time, on average about one every three days.
Injuries to the head and neck were the most common, accounting for 28 percent of the injuries, followed by injuries to the arms (24 percent), face (18 percent), and legs (17 percent). The majority of the injuries (39 percent) involved cuts and other soft-tissue wounds, followed by sprained and strained muscles (21 percent), and broken bones (10 percent).
Surprisingly, the study revealed that injuries associated with mall rides were more likely to involve the head, neck, and face than fixed-site and mobile rides. Nearly 75 percent of such injuries were the result of a child falling into, off of, and against the ride. Hard surfaces and a lack of child restraints contributed to the risk of injury, the study found.
The study’s author, Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said that a lack of federal oversight on many rides is partly to blame for so many injuries.
“Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has jurisdiction over mobile rides, regulation of fixed-site rides is currently left to state or local governments leading to a fragmented system,” he said. “A coordinated national system would help us prevent amusement ride-related injuries through better injury surveillance and more consistent enforcement of standards.”