In light of recent accidents, Tampa Bay Area water parks emphasize safety

There is no federal oversight of amusement parks
Posted at 5:48 PM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 02:15:54-04

Two amusement park accidents in the past few days have many Floridians concerned about ride safety.

Three girls were hurt when they fell from a Ferris wheel in Tennessee on Monday.

The day before, a 10-year-old boy died while riding a water slide in Kansas City, Kansas.

The former director of the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) pointed out to news outlets today that amusement parks and water parks are exempt from federal regulation.

"It's early in the investigation. We're going to find out more details as the work goes on and so we want to let the investigative authorities do some of that," said Deborah Hersman, the President of the National Safety Council and former chair of the NTSB, adding, "What we do know about water parks is there is very little federal oversight or regulations. They're not required to report their injuries, and that much of this is handled at the state and local level. And so there can be a patchwork system across the United States with respect to oversight."

Florida's Department of Agriculture does inspect and monitor amusement parks and water parks within their Fair Rides Bureau. The Department says they do not electronically publish their inspection reports or even statistics about specific parks, rides, or even state-wide trends. If a resident or visitor wanted information about any of their regulatory or oversight actions, they would have to request that information through the Department of Agriculture's hotline, 1-800-HELP-FLA.

We asked two of the Tampa Bay Area water parks, Adventure Island and LegoLand water park, about their safety habits. Here is what they had to say:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family following the tragic incident at the Schlitterbahn park. There is no higher priority for us than the safety of guests, team members and the welfare of our animals. We meet or exceed all safety guidelines set forth by state agencies as well as our ride and slide manufacturers. Each ride or slide has a posted safety warning sign at the entrance, which may be different for each attraction. Guests should review these safety requirements, based on manufacturer guidelines and our park safety protocols.” - SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, owner of Adventure Island in Tampa.

“The safety of guests is our highest priority. During peak periods, we employ up to 160 American Red Cross-certified lifeguards whose rigorous training includes the safe operation of each attraction according to manufacturer instructions. In addition, they deliver verbal and visual safety instructions to guests about to experience each of our slides.” - LegoLand Florida Resort in Winter Haven.