In June, a teenage girl fell 25 feet from a gondola ride in a upstate New York Six Flags park. In May, a 10-year-old flew off a giant waterslide in a brand-new California water park over Memorial Day weekend.
Neither sustained serious injures. Others haven't been so lucky. Ten-year-old Caleb Schwab was decapitated last August while riding what was then the world's tallest waterslide in Kansas City. The day before this happened, three children were injured in a Tennessee county fair when their Ferris wheel compartment flipped mid-air. A child fell off a roller coaster in Pennsylvania just a few days afterwards.
There have been electric shocks and torn scalps. But many more amusement park mishaps simply go unnoticed. On average, 12 kids each day are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for amusement ride-related injuries, according to a 2013 study of hospital data between 1990 and 2010.
"Regulators should adopt international standards and implement measures to ensure that all rides in their jurisdiction meet those standards, on installation, and on an ongoing basis," says Kathryn Woodcock, an amusement ride expert at Canada's Ryerson University, who also sits on the Global Safety Committee of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA).
Working conditions for ride operators, particularly in carnivals and traveling fairs, could be a contributing factor to danger. Employees on temporary worker visas at some U.S. carnivals and fairs had to work long hours on hot summer days and endure appalling living conditions, according to a 2013 report co-written by the American University Washington College of Law's Immigrant Justice Clinic and the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante.