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Study: Amusement park rides pose real dangers to kids

Summer has arrived in Boston after a long winter and stop-and-start spring. That means kids will be tugging on parents' sleeves, asking to go to amusement parks to take a turn on the roller coasters and other rides.

A new study will give many parents pause about the risks of their children getting injured, however. The study shows that tens of thousands of kids were treated at hospital emergency rooms after sustaining injuries on theme park or amusement park rides.

The study of ride-related injuries shows that 92,885 kids were taken to an ER for treatment between 1990 and 2010. That's an average of over 4,600 injuries per year.

A researcher at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital said because the thousands of injuries were serious enough for ER treatment, this is a safety problem that needs addressing.

The center is in Columbus, Ohio; it conducted the research.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the injuries happened in summer: more than 70 percent happened between May and September. That means that more than 20 kids go to emergency rooms every day for treatment of ride-related injuries.

Most of the injuries were to heads and necks, as well as arms, faces and legs, researchers determined. Other common injuries included damage to soft tissues, sprains, cuts, muscle strains and broken bones.

A significant portion of the injuries were sustained at places researchers didn't expect: the little rides at stores, restaurants, playgrounds and malls. A full 12 percent of injuries were sustained in those "harmless" locales.

The researcher said at least one child is injured and treated at an ER every day after being on one of those rides.

The study shows that one-third of all ride-related injuries are on fixed site rides at permanent installations such as theme parks. Another 29 percent are at mobile venues, such as county fairs or local festivals.

The researcher said she urges parents to make sure their children follow the rules for the ride, and that they make use of the ride's safety equipment. She also encouraged parents to simply use their instincts: if the ride doesn't feel safe to a parent, they should simply choose another ride or another place for fun.

For those parents whose children are hurt at an amusement park, a conversation with a premises liability attorney can help clarify the available legal options.

Source: newsnet5.com, "Study: Amusement ride injuries send thousands of children to U.S. emergency departments," May 1, 2013

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