Learn About Ride Safety

Boy standing by amusement ride safety sign

Safety tips for riders of all ages

Amusement parks and traveling carnivals offer an exciting escape from everyday life, but thrill rides must be used with care. The rules below can help you learn how to choose and use amusement rides safely.

Read and obey all posted rules and restrictions.

  • Follow all posted height/age restrictions, rules, and verbal instructions issued by ride operators. Riders who are smaller or larger than the posted limits may not adequately protected by the ride's restraints and safety system.
  • If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, check with your doctor before riding thrill rides.

Make sure the ride is appropriate for the rider.

  • When choosing rides for children, older riders, or people with disabilities, be conservative and realistic.  Most thrill rides are, by their very nature, physically demanding and emotionally intense.
  • Make sure the restraints fit well and the rider is secured.   Small, thin riders and obese riders are at higher risk of ejection in rides that rely on lap restraints.
  • If a child or developmentally-disabled rider seems frightened for any reason, alert the operator before the ride starts so you can get off safely and find another ride.
  • Ride with your child until you're absolutely sure he or she can understand and follow all of the safety rules.  Slower rides aren't required to have child restraints, so manufacturers and owner/operators often rely on children to keep themselves safely contained inside the vehicle.
  • If you question whether a child or disabled person in your charge should be on a particular ride, err on the side of caution. If someone lacks the capacity to fully understand what they may be subjected to and the results of their actions, they shouldn't be placed on a ride which can induce great fear and panic.

Securely latch all restraints and use grab bars.

  • Double-check seat belts, shoulder harnesses, and lap bars.  Hold onto handrails, when provided.  They're part of the safety equipment, designed to keep you safely in place.

Stay in the "locked and loaded" position for the entire ride cycle.

  • The attendant will make sure you're properly positioned and secured before the ride is launched.  It's your job to maintain that safe position until the ride comes to a final stop at the unloading point.
  • Keep all body parts and belongings inside the ride at all times. This includes hands, arms, fingers, legs, feet, toes, long hair, etc. Items dropped or thrown from a ride can cause serious accidents.
  • Never stand up on a roller coaster to get a "bigger thrill", or rock a vehicle that's not designed to be controlled by riders.
  • If a ride stops temporarily, due to breakdown or other reason, stay seated and wait for the ride to start up again or for an operator to give your further instructions. Make sure kids know this before they're allowed to ride alone.
  • Ride eyes-front to protect your neck. If you've got your head turned when a sudden change in acceleration occurs, injuries can result.

Take frequent breaks if you're riding high-g rides.

  • Repeated rides on high-g rides can lead to loss of consciousness. Loss of consciousness results in loss of postural control, which can lead to serious injury on a high-acceleration ride. Patrons are warned to rest 20-30 minutes between rides.

Stop riding before you get excessively tired.

  • Tired riders are more likely to make a mistake or skip a safety procedure, and might not have the strength needed to hold their head up or brace themselves around curves.

Drink plenty of fluids throughout your stay at an amusement park or carnival.

  • Dehydration can increase your risk of injury or illness on some rides.

Never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Don't board a ride if it looks poorly-maintained or the operator is inattentive.

  • While most parks and carnivals pay close attention to ride safety, there are unfortunate exceptions - just as in any industry.  Follow your instincts. If something about a ride seems out of whack, don't ride it.

Carnival Safety Video for the Whole Family

The following video, produced by the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA), can help children and families learn how to have a safe, fun time on the midway:

Carnival Safety Video from OABA on Vimeo.