By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation
The smell of popcorn and cotton candy fill the air, the sounds of youngsters shouting for joy as they soar up and down on a carousel, and the colorful balloons and smiling faces are just some of the special memories you may recall about a past trip to a county fair, local festival or amusement park. Although each venue is unique and special in their own way, safety practices while attending one of these places are universal. So how can you assure your visit to a county fair, local festival or amusement park is a safe, healthy and happy one? Here are some tips to ensure you and your loved ones have a fun-filled and safe time.
The first step in assuring safety starts before you even leave your house. Be sure to check the weather report and dress appropriately. This can help you avoid being too hot or too cold, alert you to pack a poncho or umbrella in case of rain, or postpone your trip due to potentially hazardous weather conditions. Also, be sure to pack waterproof sunscreen, wear comfortable shoes, and drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Drinking water is important in both preparation for your visit, as well as during your visit.
Secondly, when you arrive to your destination, locate a special family meeting place. This way if you happen to get separated, you can all report to one place instead of frantically looking for each other among the crowds. Make sure you remember what your child is wearing, that way others can assist you in locating your child. This can be easily done by snapping a photo of them on your cell phone at the start of the day. Having your child wear some form of identification such as a bracelet or a contact tag. In addition to locating a meeting place, you may want to identify the location of a first aid station in case your family would need to visit it during the course of the day.
Third, ride safety is must! Be sure to check health conditions, as well as height and safety requirements prior to getting in line for a ride. Safety requirements are listed for a reason and should be followed. As you enter a ride, make sure to fasten your seatbelt or harness and keep your hands inside the car or on the grab bar at all times. If you do not feel secure, don’t be afraid to ask a ride attendant for help. It is always better to be safe than sorry! Never exit the ride until it comes to a complete stop. Also, fences and gates are in place for a reason, so never climb them or trespass forbidden areas.
Fourth, be aware of your surroundings. In many cases, injuries can stem from not paying attention to those around you. From tripping over someone or something like a baby stroller or electrical cords on the ground to running quickly to get in line for a ride, slowing down and paying attention can avoid a lot of unnecessary accidents. On a beautiful day, numerous others will have the same idea as you and be heading out to an amusement park or fair, so be prepared to deal with crowds on your visit.
Fifth, always wash your hands. At many county fairs and festivals there are petting zoos or animals on display. To prevent the spread of E.coli bacteria and other diseases, always wash your hands after touching an animal and especially before you eat a meal. Be sure to check for a restroom or hand washing station on the grounds.
Finally, remember that safety starts with you! Lead by example and if you notice a safety concern, such as a broken restraint on a ride or a child playing in dangerous area, alert an employee or someone in charge immediately! You may have a hand in keeping someone else out of harm’s way!
These safety tips are examples of what children learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day, which are held each year in more than 400 local communities throughout North America. To learn more about the Safety Day program, visit our website at http://www.progressiveag.org