Common carnival dangers -

Most dangerous carnival rides

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Everyone enjoys the thrills of amusement park rides, but did you know the Consumer Protection Safety Commission estimates that as many as 10,000 ride-related injuries occur each year?  We're not just including the big parks -- even small carnivals can pose a major risk to you and your children.

The elements of speed, force and height are combined to give amusement park-goers an experience that keeps them coming back for more.  These rides are designed to thrill and scare people, but those same factors also make them dangerous.

Unlike the rides in large amusement parks, mobile rides are continuously disassembled, moved to the next location and set up all over again.

Amusement park inspector Scott Prather says, "Each owner-operator is required to perform their own inspection daily prior to operating with patrons."  Prather is one of three mobile amusement ride inspectors for the state of California.  He verifies the inspections are performed on each ride and makes sure the employees making those inspections are qualified to do so.

"A seat belt that's not functioning would be a red flag, and I would probably question the integrity of the rest of the ride," says Prather. 

While you may not be able to spot faulty engineering or mechanics, Prather says there is a way to minimize the risk. He recommends reading the 'Fun and Safety" sign at the entrance of each ride.

Prather does on-site inspections of the state's approximately 1,000 portable rides.  Like other inspectors across the country, his work can make the difference between a night of fun and a life-changing tragedy.

For more information go to, a watch-dog web site used by many state regulators.

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