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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Safe summering: Common sense makes your fair experience safer and more fun

(COURTESY ART SERVICES)
from:  The Southern Illinoisan
•  BY ADAM TESTA, The Southern
06.11.2012
Summer brings with it a sense of excitement.
The season — a respite from school for children — carries the promise of fun in the sun, family vacations and relaxation. But every few weeks, a different element of a successful summer rolls into various towns across the region.
Trucks carry in vending booths, midway games and amusement park rides to the different fairgrounds dotting the Southern Illinois landscape. Within a matter of days, those pieces of equipment become the cornerstones of a summer staple: the fair.
Whether at an individual town celebration, a country affair or a large-scale event like the Du Quoin State Fair, the smell of corndogs and elephants ears and the sounds of people screaming in delight on thrill-seeking rides are symbols of the season.
But while it’s easy to escape into the fun and games of a carnival or fair environment, it’s also important to remain safe and take the proper precautions to make the most of the summer fun. And it should be simple.
“Common sense is a very valuable commodity,” said Trooper David Sneed, safety education officer for Illinois State Police District 13 in Du Quoin. “Just use your head and make good decisions.”
The safety preparations begin before leaving home, he said, as parents should ensure children, as well as themselves, are traveling safe and properly, with seatbelts attached. Once arriving, it’s important to be aware of the weather conditions and risks of leaving people waiting in the car.
“If you leave someone napping, it’s not really a safe thing to do,” Sneed said.
Once at the fairgrounds, it’s important to keep track of belongings — and that includes children. It’s easy to let kids wander off to do their own thing, but it’s important to keep tabs on them.
“Keep an eye on your kids; you always want to know where they’re at.”
The Illinois Department of Labor, which oversees inspections of carnival rides in the state, also offer their own advice for fairgoers, and again, most of it boils down to common sense.
State officials advise people to observe the rules for rides, such as height requirements, and to listen to the operators. Parents should also explain rides to their children, so they know what to expect, and should not assume rides will be safe for children if they hold onto them.
If something seems wrong with a ride, ask the operator, and if that doesn’t get a sufficient response, call the Department of Labor at 217-782-9347.
“We just want to make sure they everyone has a good time and goes home safely,” Sneed said. “We want it to be a positive memory and not something you remember for the wrong reasons.”
adam.testa@thesouthern.com

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