A water slide is a recreational device designed to allow the swimmer to descend into a pool at the bottom of the slide. On many slides, the surface is slickened by a continual flow of running water. In 1984, an estimated 600 slides were known to be in operation in the United States. By the turn of the century, more indoor and outdoor water parks cropped up across the country, becoming a mainstream family attraction. If you do not follow certain safety precautions, it’s easy to get hurt on a water slide.
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About 86 percent of reported water park injuries involve water slides, according to Saferparks.org, and in most cases accidents are caused by high-velocity, slippery slides. Riders can get hurt on the slide as well as from the impact of hitting the pool and colliding with other swimmers. Injuries from flipped inner tubes can cause lacerations, head injuries and even death. Other injuries include scrapes when getting on or off a slide, hyperextension or dislocation, falling off the slide, injuries caused by foreign objects, getting pinched or trapped, choking, water inhalation and suffocation.
In 2000, a 6-year-old boy boarded an inner tube and entered an enclosed water slide in Bristol, Connecticut, but did not emerge at the other end. Park authorities believe his tube might have flipped inside the slide and cause him to drown. In 2001, a 41-year-old Phoenix, Arizona, woman flipped off a 6-story high water slide to her death. In 2002, 20 people were treated in the hospital for respiratory complaints. All of them were at the same water park in Powell, Ohio. A green cloud had been reportedly hovering above the pool.
While a water slide is considered an amusement, there is a very real danger of injury if you do not take precautions. Avoid slippery surfaces, don’t allow small children to ride large slides, and stay out of water that looks or smells dirty. Safterparks.org reports that water slides are not designed for older people. Older riders are at higher risk of injury on some amusement rides, water slides included.
In 1999, a man was climbing the stairs to a water slide in a Jacksonville, Florida, park. After a slip and fall that caused a herniated disk and a severe laceration, the man claimed that the stairs were coated in slippery algae. In court, water park employees reported seeing other swimmers getting hurt on the same stairs. Based on data submitted to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 13 percent of accident reports submitted to state agencies regarding water slide injuries are caused when swimmers collide. Most of the victims of water slide injuries are children under the age of 12. Boys are injured in riding water slides more than girls, but adult females are treated for water slide accidents more than any other age group.