Doctor On Call: Avoiding Injuries On Fair Rides

The Tulsa State Fair kicks off Thursday and a lot of folks are looking forward to riding all the rides, but it's important to keep safety in mind. Dr. Stacy Chronister with OSU Medicine joined us to talk about avoiding injuries.

Tuesday, September 26th 2023, 9:41 am

By: News On 6


The Tulsa State Fair kicks off Thursday and a lot of folks are looking forward to riding all the rides. However, you'll want to be careful and adhere to the rules of the rides.

Dr. Stacy Chronister is an internal medicine specialist with OSU Medicine and she joined us to talk about ride safety.

What’s the harm in having a kid alter their height to meet the ride requirement?

The height requirement for a ride should be taken as seriously as the height and weight requirement for car seats. In order to maximize the fun, the height restriction is already set to the bare minimum height. There is really no fudge factor here that a child who is “almost” the height limit will still be OK.

Risks include everything as severe as falling off of the ride to just sliding around a lot more, which increases brain impact and impact in the body.

Is the ride safe for all children who meet the height limit?

Not necessarily. As a general measure, we assume if a child has reached a certain height, their bones are also mature enough to handle the ride's impact. Physicians also worry about bone health, particularly of the neck and back. If your child is tall for their age and meets the height requirement, it doesn't mean that they have the bone density yet of typical children their age and Dr. Chronister recommends holding off another year.

Riding with hands in the air

If you are tall, there is a concern that your hand and arm may impact metal and cause significant injury. If you are short, and your feet do not reach all the way to the floor of the coaster, by not holding on you may slide around more, increasing risk of falling off of the ride and also for concussions.

What are the most common injuries?

A lot of different injuries can occur, but a neck sprain is the most common while on rides. If you already have neck or back problems, heed caution on rides that warn not to ride. Particularly avoid rides that have fast, jerking motions, which includes most roller coasters at the fair.

The most common injuries are the “patron-directed rides.” Any ride that is controlled by the rider is going to have much higher risk of injury. You aren’t strapped in and following a path, so if you already have neck or back problems, definitely avoid the bumper cars. Other activities like this include go karts, inflatables, and slides.

How to avoid injuries on fair rides

For all those with the Mega Ride passes, it’s important to remember to take breaks between rides, particularly those with significant g-forces (spinning rides being the biggest issue at the fair).

Those intense motions cause the brain to move into the skull and it needs some recovery time before being exposed to this again.

Dr. Chronister recommends waiting at least 10 minutes between these rides, which is a typical wait time if you are going through the line.

It's also suggested that you keep your head straight while riding. The chance of getting neck injury, concussion, or any other injury to the body increases if the rider is not looking straight ahead. Although you want the picture of your kid on the coaster, don’t ask them to look to you as this can increase the risk of injury.

Dr. Chronister said to never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


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