Making sure you’re safe at local fairs

(Image: Big Stock Photo)

(WTNH) — The summer and the fall are big time for fairs, so what can you do to make sure your family is safe?

There is no federal agency that oversights carnivals like the Savin Rock Festival in West Haven. It’s all done state to state. Here in Connecticut, that’s left to the State Troopers, making sure your family is safe.

Before the lights go on and the fun ramps up, carnivals in Connecticut get a top down inspection.

“Every single connection point we’re going to check. We inspect for the welds. We’re going to make sure that all of the pieces that are welded, the cross pieces, that the welds are properly welded…that the welds aren’t cracked, rusted, fatigued. Anything that’s visible for the human eye, we’re going to inspect,” said a Connecticut State Police detective.

This Connecticut State Police detective has been inspecting rides for more than a decade.

“We want to make sure that the ride is set up securely, that it’s stable. If the ride jars or wiggles in a way that we’re uncomfortable with, we’ll have the owner come over,” he said.

State Troopers like him are responsible for the safety at these and fixed location amusement rides. So far this year, they’ve already inspected more than 120 carnival locations, getting right up into what makes it all go ’round.

“As this reverses the track, we want to make sure that the vehicle stays on the track, that it doesn’t come off of the track,” he said.

Nationally, the Consumer Protection Office that investigates says there’s been 22 amusement fatalities since 2010. Here in Connecticut, there hasn’t been a death since 1994.

Just last year, six children were shocked at a New London location and in 2013, 12 children were injured in Norwalk.

To help reduce injuries and make sure people are safe in Connecticut, they don’t just check these rides once, but multiple times. First they are checked when they are created, they must be evaluated by structural engineers. They are then checked once again to get a license. The State Troopers then evaluate the safety at every location they set up at.  The operators and owners do daily inspections of the rides.

Their goal is to make sure that riders feel safe.

“We’re here really as an accountability to make sure that they’ve properly set up the ride and that they’ve done everything that they need to do to make the ride safe,” the Trooper told News 8.

His advice as carnival season ramps up is to “come out here and have fun, but do so responsibly.”

If you’re still concerned, you can look for a blue licensing sticker on amusement park and carnival rides. It should have the current year on it. Also, don’t ignore the safety guides that are posted on every single ride. As tempting as it may be to let your kids go on their tiptoes to get above the height restrictions, don’t do that either. Those are there for a reason for your safety. It is the minimum height the ride is able to handle when it comes to safety.

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