Here’s Another Reason to Be Afraid of Water Parks

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A wholesome summertime activity—or a disgusting and potentially dangerous one?!

When you decide to cool off at a water park there are certain mundane risks you might expect—even accept—as being par for the course. Ending up in the path of a floating, errant Band-Aid. The ever-present thought that no matter how diligent the cleaning efforts of the water park’s staff, no matter how potent the chlorine treatment, there’s almost certainly urine circulating in the water around you.

What you don’t expect is to become the unwitting participant in a real-life recreation of a summer disaster movie.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened at a Chinese water park last week. Forty-four tourists were injured when a wave pool at Yulong Suiyun Water Amusement Park in Longjing city reportedly malfunctioned, resulting in an unusually high wave. The moment the unsuspecting swimmers were caught up in the massive rogue wave was captured in a terrifying video.

Five people sustained serious injuries (including fractured ribs) that required hospitalization. The park was closed for a day so that repairs could take place but has since resumed its usual operations.

Incidents at water parks, in general, are relatively freak occurrences, and ones involving wave pools seem to be even rarer. But when they do happen, they have the potential for tragedy, especially when they involve water slides. Earlier this year, there was an accident at another Chinese waterpark (this one in Taiping in the province of Sichuan) where two people were killed and 12 more were injured after they fell off a waterslide. In 2016, a ten-year-old boy was decapitated while going down a 168-foot tall waterslide at a Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City.

How to Be Safe as Possible

Unfortunately, when it comes to these outlying accidents, a great deal of whether or not your experience at a water park is safe is dependent on the water park itself. The Schlitterbahn incident was determined to be the result of such egregious negligence (which included active flaws in the ride’s design) that the ride’s designer and the park’s co-owner were charged with second-degree murder (all charges were dropped earlier this year). Aside from staying home, there’s very little you personally can do to combat malfunctions and negligence on the park’s part.

However, there are a number of steps you can take toward making your water park visit safer. The Global Association for the Attractions Industry lists a number of standard safety tips you should follow, including being dressed appropriately, and wearing a Coast Guard-approved life vest if you’re a child under 48 inches tall, a non-swimmer, or a weak swimmer. Always follow safety instructions and directions from lifeguards to the letter. And if you look at an attraction and your instincts don’t like what they’re seeing, don’t go on it. There’s something to be said for trusting your gut. At the end of the day, you have to decide if your safety and well-being is worth the rush of adrenaline.

You should also take the same preventative measures that you would take for getting in any pool, such as not getting the water if you’re sick with diarrhea, rinsing off before getting in the water, and not swallowing or spitting in the water. Be proactive in preventing other’s maladies when possible!