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Be wary of amusement park rides

It's usually about at this point in the summer that parents are wracking their brains for fun activities to entertain their kids.

The days are long, the heat is rising and boredom abounds — as do frayed tempers. Many parents may decide that an outing to a local amusement park is a fairly inexpensive form of entertainment for their youngsters.

But is it safe?

That's debatable, and Kentucky has had its share of amusement park tragedies in recent years.

It hasn't even been four years since 17 people died and 33 others suffered injuries on the wooden roller coaster dubbed "Noah's Ark" at the former Bluegrass Boardwalk on the state fairgrounds.

Not even a year later, a dozen people got hurt riding the "Jitterbug" at Bowling Green's Beech Bend Amusement Park. Prior to those two serious accidents, according to media outlet WDRB, in 2007 at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, a young girl had her feet amputated by a cable that broke off of the Superman Tower of Power ride.

Safety on amusement rides varies widely

Accidents happen when people are slung to high heights and plunged immediately down tracks while turned upside down. It's part of the thrill of the ride — and why some people never step foot on amusement park rides.

In the Kentucky Kingdom ride incident, the father of the girl whose feet were severed commented that the ride operators were teenagers who were "too young . . . to be put in a position to have to make a snap decision. It's just a system of failure all the way around."

Perhaps the sketchiest rides are those at the pop-up carnivals commonly seen in towns all over Kentucky and other southern regions. Carnival operators travel a regional circuit, appearing in a town and hastily assembling the rides for a few days or a week of local entertainment before breaking them down and heading out of town to the next gig. It's not hard to imagine the safety fails that could occur on rides like those.

Use your judgment before riding

Parents can do a bit of due diligence before turning the kids loose to ride the rides. Don't be embarrassed to ask the operators to see permits or ask about maintenance logs. These are your children that you're entrusting to the Fates.

Also, observe the rides in motion for a few circuits. Do they appear to be in working order? Are the cables in good shape or do they look old or worn? If anything sticks out as iffy, take the kids for ice cream and a round of mini golf instead.

Were you injured on an amusement park ride here in Kentucky? You may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit and recoup some of your losses and damages.

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