Spring has sprung… and for my 12-year-old cousin that means the countdown to summer vacation is on. His dream is to spend the entire summer at our local waterpark, though his parents will be the ones to decide if that becomes reality. For millions of Americans it will be. Annual attendance at our nation’s approximately 1,000 water parks has risen to more than 70 million. There’s no question waterparks are popular, but how safe are they? In Part 1 of Waterpark Safety, I will focus on what you can do to avoid having your dream of a fabulous waterpark visit turn into a nightmare.
Drowning is the second most common cause of death from injuries among children under the age of 14. It can happen in less than two minutes after a person’s head goes under the water. That leaves very little time for someone to help, making it critical to educate yourself and your family about water safety. The American Red Cross and the World Waterpark Safety Association have come up with some great tips on how to stay safe at waterparks.
1. Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim–this includes adults and children.
2. Zero depth pools are recommended for toddlers. These pools have water games, sprays, and fountains with no appreciable water depth.
3. Health restrictions apply to some rides. People with neck or back problems heart conditions, prone to motion sickness, or pregnant may not ride high speed or rapid descent rides.
4. Age and height restrictions apply to many rides. Size and coordination is critical to safety inside open water flumes.
5. Be sure the area is well supervised by lifeguards before you or others in your group enter the water.
6. Read all posted signs. Follow the rules and directions given by lifeguards. Ask questions if you are not sure about a correct procedure.
7. When you go from one attraction to another, note that the water depth may be different and that the attraction should be used in a different way.
8. No running or horseplay in or around the pools.
9. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in most parks. In parks allowing alcohol, consumption is restricted to certain areas.
10. Some facilities provide life jackets at no charge. If you cannot swim, wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
11. Last, but not least, use plenty of sunscreen on all exposed skin to ensure maximum skin protection. Hats, visors, and shirts are recommended to prevent overexposure around the pools.
Next up in our series: Waterpark Safety Part 2: Water-borne Illnesses at Waterparks.