Here's how you can keep your little ones safe at festivals, carnivals

A look at best practices for parents
Posted at 6:15 AM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 20:31:49-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — Throughout the summer, we’ll see plenty of carnivals pop up throughout metro Detroit.

Carnival accidents spread on social media like wildfire, so there’s typically concern among parents when it comes to fast moving rides that kids frantically run toward.

The question inevitably becomes: How do I keep my little one safe?

According to the experts, parents can take steps to ensure their children are safe. At LARA, the agency that regulates a number of entities including amusement parks and carnivals, the initial advice is to look for signage that explains the ride.

While dramatic injuries often make headlines, the most typical injuries include bumps, bruises and other minor injuries. However, more severe injuries do happen. A worker at the Curwood Festival in mid-Michigan had a leg amputated after an accident earlier this year. In 2017, an Ohio festival made national headlines when a ride crashed, causing several injuries and one death.

7 Action News went to the Southfield Festival of Hope which is preparing for its ninth year to find out how they’ve operated for nearly a decade without incident.

“Safety is definitely a concern for some parents,” said Brandon Bell, the co-chair for the Hope United Methodist Church event. “It’s an extensive job for sure, so we’re double and triple-checking each ride and setup.”

Bell explained that they contract the company which sets up their rides, noting that every one of the employees that sets up the ride has to be certified to do so. They also run safety checks an hour before the festival begins, and immediately following the closing of the rides. On a state level, every ride that operates within the state has to be inspected.

According to Saferparks, kids between the ages of 7 and 12 account for nearly a third of all ride accidents — that’s why parent involvement is important. Checking to make sure safety signage is posted on a ride is recommended. You should also double-check that ride restraints are working on a ride before it starts.

If you have a younger child, there’s a few safety tips offered up from LARA:

* Know the rules of the ride; listen to verbal or recorded instructions.
* Observe all age, height, and weight restrictions. Know the safest riding position for the kids.
* Never seat a child on your lap, unless ride operators indicate it’s safe to do so.
* Securely latch seat belts, shoulder harness, and lap bars before the ride begins. Hold on to handrails; use grab bars.
* Keep hands, arms, legs, and feet inside the ride at all times. Do not ride with hands in the air. Secure loose hair, clothing, and belongings. Never stand up on a ride.
* Stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop and you are instructed to exit.
* Patrons with heart conditions, pregnancy, or back/neck injuries should heed any warning signs posted.
* Report any unsafe behavior or conditions on a ride to a ride supervisor or manager immediately.
* Report injuries to a ride supervisor. They will assist the injured and report the injury to LARA.

As for the Southfield Festival of Hope, we’re told they’ll be wrapped up with safety inspections and setup before Thursday’s 4 p.m. start time. They’ll operate Thursday through Sunday with an admission cost of $5. If you’d like to learn more about the festival you can find information, here.

“We’re just excited to bring more families out to let everyone know that Hope still exists,” said Courtney Bell, a co-chair of the event. “We’re here to serve the community, off free events and offer opportunities for families to have a safe environment.“

As for carnivals and festivals, the state has a phone number that’s available for concerned parents to call any time they have a question or issue with a specific ride and it’s permitting. You can contact the amusement park division of LARA by calling (517) 241-9221.