Fair Safety Tips

Sep 01, 2017

Buckner Fair is September 22 - 23

The Consumer Product Safety Commission states more than 4,000 children are hurt on amusement rides annually in the United States. The recorded injuries ranged from head and neck problems to injuries to the face, arms and legs. Soft tissue injuries -- damage to ligaments, muscles and tendons -- were most common. Researchers noted that it was not just the bigger rides that caused problems but smaller rides including mall rides. Many researchers have struggled to find solutions for the health and safety problems most families experience while attending carnivals and amusement parks. There are tips to lower the risk of injury and stay safe and healthy while attending family fun events. 

Fair officials take Missouri’s tougher carnival ride inspections seriously after the fatal ride malfunction in Ohio. The Missouri Division of Fire Safety fulfills annual inspections of rides based upon nationally-recognized inspection standards and the manufacturer's recommendations and guidelines. Inspectors inspect all rides and defines amusement rides as any mechanical device that carries or conveys passengers along, around or over a fixed or restricted route or course, or within a defined area for the purpose of giving its passengers amusement, pleasure or excitement. Inflatable and water rides are not inspected but are required to obtain a state-operating permit. 

The Division of Fire Safety issues each ride an adhesive operating permit that is to be placed on or near the ride’s control panel or operator's station upon completion of the permitting process. Inspectors can only do so much to ensure a rider’s safety. Riders must be mindful of the rules and regulations of the ride such as, height and weight requirements, wearing the appropriate clothes, and using seatbelts or other safety devices. President of the Buckner Festival in the Valley Tonia Richardson promotes fair safety and also provides helpful tips on keeping the Buckner fair safe and fun. Richardson asks, “Please remind older youth that the inflatable attractions at the Fair are for smaller children. Mixing bigger and smaller kids in a bouncy house will cause little ones to get hurt,” she said.

There are tips to lower injury risks and to stay safe and healthy while attending family fun events. In the United States, the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA) estimates some 500 million guests visit carnivals, fairs and festivals each year, and they believe that more than half of them participate on mobile amusement rides. Places hosting large amounts of people daily have a greater chance of harboring many forms of germs and bacteria. A few ways to avoid germs and bacteria at amusements parks and carnivals is frequent hand washing especially after petting animals, riding rides, entering an exhibit and even before and after eating. Be mindful of areas like tables, counters, handlebars around the park and on rides. It may be helpful to have travel size hand sanitizer or wipes.

Staying hydrated is very important but can be costly. The average price for bottled water at a Missouri carnival or amusement park is $4. Taking a reusable water bottle and packing water-rich fruits and vegetables can save money and time. Concerts and entertainment performances are popular at fairs and a common mistake made while attending these events is not consuming enough water to offset alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. 

A tip to stay hydrated is to alternate these beverages with water. Carnivals and amusement parks tend to offer unhealthy food options coupled with questionable food preparation. Food inspection policies differ by state and some vendors may not get inspected before handing out food. The Missouri Department of Health makes routine inspections of food service operators but some vendors can qualify for exemption. 

 “As far as food, is there any bad food at festivals?  So far we have the following food for the Festival: Tamales, popcorn, Chunky Al’s BBQ, Kona, Arctic Ice Lemonade, Juice Plus, Funnel Cakes. We are still looking for more vendors,” Richardson said. For more information on becoming a vendor, email bfv.bucknermo@gmail.com.

As for personal safety tips at carnivals and amusement parks, attend in groups and utilize the buddy system. Have an emergency plan, designated meeting place and phone numbers handy incase something happens or someone gets separated from the group. Richardson stresses not to drop off kids or teens at the Fair and leave them unattended for the Festival committee to watch. “The Festival committee works to bring a fun, family-oriented and ‘safe’ event to the community,” she said. “Watching unattended youth takes away from other duties.” 

The Chicago Tribune suggests taking a group photo before entering the park or carnival and dressing in bright colors to help park officials locate a missing person. Richardson says, “If you see something wrong, please inform someone in charge like staff members or one of our officers.  We do our best to make sure everything runs smoothly, but we are only human and do miss things.  If you don't inform us, we don't know.” Richardson asks to please be aware of surrounding while attending the Fair. 

Theft is common at carnivals and amusement parks because of how crowded and distracting attractions can be. To prevent valuable items from getting stolen, leave large purses or bags at home, store valuables and money in pockets or bags that have zippers. Richardson  also encourages leaving bikes or skateboards at home while attending the Fair. Bikes and skateboards can be safety hazards. Richardson stresses to be kind to all vendors. 

The Festival Committee has also organized the baby contest, cutest dog contest and some new contests like a photo contest and a hot dog eating contest. For more information on Fair events and contests, check the BFV.BucknerMO Facebook page.

About the Writer

Shayna Heathman


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