There are 1,300 water parks in the United States, and 85 million people visit them each year.
As a parent, it's important to know what to look for if you are planning a trip to an indoor or outdoor water park.
Here is some information and reminders from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help keep your family safe and healthy.
1. Know the rules.
Water slides are the number one cause of injuries at water parks. So, follow ride directions. Rules like "feet first" are there for a reason―to keep riders safe.
Always pay attention to the size and weight restrictions on water park rides. Riders who are too small can be thrown from the ride. Riders that exceed the maximums can get stuck in chutes or build up excessive speed and exit the ride too fast. Also, watch for the maximum number of riders allowed. If signs say limited to two riders per ride, don't pile four on trying to break a record. Make sure your children understand the need to follow the rules.
2. Know your swimmer.
National data shows fatal and nonfatal drownings have occurred at U.S. water parks. It can happen to anyone.
Know the risks and take steps to prevent a drowning tragedy.
3. Know what's in the water.
According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people have about 0.14 grams of feces on their bottoms that can rinse off and contaminate water. The CDC also reports that in one year, 58% of public pools tested positive for E. coli―a marker of fecal contamination. Yuck! Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium) has a high tolerance to chlorine that enables this parasite to survive for long periods in chlorinated swimming pool water. Both E. coli and Crypto can make swimmers very ill, sometimes leading to hospitalization.
4. Know who is watching—and who's not.
Did you know that the federal government does not monitor or regulate fixed-site amusement parks―many of which contain water parks? It's unfortunately true! In 1980, Congress handed over control of these parks to state and local governments. Federal safety officials are not allowed to address safety problems at these parks, so a patchwork of local and state authorities bear the responsibility of safety oversight for amusement park rides. This means there is no consistent standard of regulation.
5. Think outside the pool.
So now that you've considered swim rules, swimmer safety, and health issues, there are a few more general tips that can help ensure your day at the park remains positive. As always, it's important to bring and use
sunscreen if you will be outdoors. You should also bring water to keep everyone hydrated.