Contact Us

Are Fair Rides Safe in Montana?

Photo courtesy of JOE-3PO/Flickr

It’s fair season in Montana, and that means folks across the state are gearing up for a days-long overload of carnival games, fried food and, of course, rides.

But, as you turn the kids loose to get their thrills on attractions with names like the Zipper, the Scrambler and the Tilt-a-Whirl, you might be wondering just how safe those rides really are.

When I was a kid, my brother and I had to beg our parents to even think about letting us ride the Ferris wheel. Pharaoh’s Fury? Forget about it.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I realize that their reservations about fair rides were not totally unfounded. After all, more than 7,000 Americans are sent to the emergency room every year after getting injured on mobile or inflatable rides, according to the federal government.

It might not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things — millions of people attend fairs and carnivals each year — but it’s definitely worth a second thought, especially when you consider the fact that the inspection of carnival rides is not federally regulated.

The manufacturing of such rides is governed by a set of federal regulations, but it’s up to each state to oversee the way the equipment is set up and maintained.

Some states enforce their own inspection regulations, some require private inspections performed by a third party, some — like Idaho and Washington — have a mixture of state and private oversight, and some have no inspection or maintenance requirements at all. Guess which group Montana belongs to?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our state is one of six that do not require any sort of inspection of carnival or amusement park rides. Ride operators are trained to inspect the machinery they use, but as a customer, it pays for you to be observant as well.

If a ride appears to be off-balance or unstable, or if it is making unusual noises, it might not be a bad idea to skip it. If you do choose to go on a ride, be sure to wear proper clothing and shoes (no flip-flops or dangly items), use all safety restraints and follow instructions. Also, make sure the ride is completely over before exiting the area, as many injuries occur because people exit while the equipment is still moving.

If all else fails, there’s no shame in grabbing a corn dog and hanging out by the games all day.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

More from AM 1240 KLYQ

Best of the Web

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://klyq.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on AM 1240 KLYQ quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here.

Sign up for an account to comment, share your thoughts, and earn points to get great prizes.

Register on AM 1240 KLYQ quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!