1. Be a cautious consumer when choosing amusement rides for your child.
Amusement rides are no different than any other kind of product targeted at children. They offer benefits and risks. Use the same good judgment when picking amusement rides that you do when deciding which foods or TV shows or toys are safe for your kids. When deciding whether a ride is safe for your child, base the decision on what you know about your child and how secure the ride appears to be for children, not on what a teenage ride operator says or what you see other parents doing
Can your child follow directions and stay seated?
How familiar is your child with amusement rides?
Is your child easily frightened?
Is your child a risk-taker?
How well does your child fit within the restraint system?
2. Watch the ride with your child before boarding.
Read warning signs aloud.
Point out the ride attendants and the loading/unloading locations.
Explain that rides sometimes stop temporarily, but that riders must never get off until the attendant tells them to.
Talk about what to do if your child gets frightened while the ride is moving. Tell her NOT to get out of the car. Explain that amusement rides might seem scary, but they're not dangerous as long as riders hold on tight, stay seated, and keep their hands and feet inside.
Tell children to hold on tightly with both hands. Solid metal lap bars and handholds are part of the safety equipment. Teach your children to use them. Many kids raised in the era of five-point car seat restraint systems don't know that holding on is important.
3. Always obey minimum height, age, weight, and health restrictions.
Never sneak children onto rides they're too small or too young for. Ride manufacturers' restrictions take into account the forces exerted by the ride and (sometimes) the intellectual maturity required to ride safely. A smaller/younger child may not be physically or developmentally able to stay safely seated.
Use the posted height and age limits as suggestions, not pass/fail criteria. Manufacturers base their guidelines on developmental timelines and height/weight ratios of children in the 50th percentile. Kids who are tall for their age may not be developmentally ready for a particular ride. Kids who are more impulsive than average need closer parental supervision.
Don't put your child on a ride he's outgrown. Maximum height and weight limits are just as important as minimum limits.
If you can't count on your child to stay seated with hands and feet inside, don't let him or her ride.
Your safety depends on your own behavior
Patrons who move around during the ride cycle, don't pay attention to what they're doing, or deliberately break the safety rules are the number one safety concern voiced by ride owners and operators. Amusement rides may be fun fantasy entertainment, but they're also powerful machines and there's not a whole lot of room for error. If you stand up or loosen your restraint or push your little sister off her seat, a serious accident can result.
Read the ride rules and restrictions, and follow them all!
Never lie or argue about height/age/weight/health restrictions in order to get yourself or someone you love onto an amusement ride. If a piece of high-speed (or low-speed) heavy machinery wasn't designed or tested to be safe for 29-inch-tall toddlers or 350-pound adults, then why on earth would you want to trick or bully a ride operator into playing guinea pig with your own 29-inch-tall child or your own 350-pound self?
Use all the safety equipment provided
If a ride has a restraint system, latch it. If the ride has more than one restraint system, latch all of them. Keep them latched until the operator tells you to get off the ride. The extra step might seem like a bore, but if the primary restraint happens to fail while you're riding, you'll learn to appreciate redundant system design.