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May 26, 2006

State provides safety tips for families visiting amusement parks, street festivals and carnivals this summer
Illinois Department of Labor conducts safety inspections statewide to ensure rides and attractions are safe for millions of families expected during the Memorial Day Weekend and throughout the summer

CHICAGO -- The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) announced safety tips reminding visitors how to stay safe while having fun on amusement rides and attractions.  With summer just around the corner and millions of Illinoisans and visitors from other states expected to make their way to popular amusement parks, festivals, street fairs and carnivals across Illinois, the Department is ensuring all rides are licensed, safe and secure.

“Illinois has a variety of amusement parks and traveling carnivals and we want parents and visitors to know that we’re out there making sure that rides are safe for them and their children to enjoy.  We remain committed to safeguarding Illinois families by inspecting amusement rides and attractions and are proud of our safety record.  By announcing these safety measures, we hope to create awareness among the general public and encourage them to be as vigilant as we are,” said IDOL Director, Art Ludwig.

To ensure safety at these attractions, the Department offers the following guidelines:

• Make sure the ride has a current permit sticker (2006) issued by IDOL.  If you do not see it affixed to the ride, ask to see it before you get on.  All amusement rides or attractions, which include inflatable rides, commonly called moonwalks or bounces, should not be operated for public use without a permit from the Department.

• Don’t assume a ride is safe for small children if you hold on to them.

• Talk to your children so they know what to expect of the ride.

• If your child is afraid of the ride, it’s probably best not to put her or him on the ride.  Never force your child or friend to ride.

• Read and follow all posted rules and observe age, height and weight restrictions.  If they are not posted, ASK.

• Follow all instructions given to you by the ride operator.

• Walk, don’t run and hold on to handles provided.

• Remain seated and keep hands, arms and feet inside ride at all times.

• Use safety equipment, such as a seat belt, shoulder harness, lap bar or chain when provided.

• Stay in the vehicle until it comes to a complete stop.

“IDOL has continuously done an outstanding job in its efforts to maintain a good working relationship with the amusement industry and educating patrons on the safety issues related to amusement rides and attractions,” said Rick Haney, Executive Secretary of the Showmen's League of America.  “Carnival and Park owners are in the business of entertaining and do not want anyone to leave their midway or park after having a bad experience or worse, injured.  Safety issues and responsibilities are serious concerns to IDOL, Carnival or Park Operator, and patrons must also be aware of their part in the same.”

IDOL enforces the Carnival and Amusement Rides Safety Act throughout the state and inspects nearly 5,000 rides at stationary parks, traveling carnivals or fairs that are open to the public at least once a year.  The law requires the annual safety inspection before the permits can be issued to amusement rides, amusement attractions, inflated attractions, ski lifts, rope tows, go-kart tracks, aerial trams, dry slides, mobile climbing walls and bungee jumping (view permit at www.state.il.us.agency/idol).

Governor Blagojevich signed legislation on May 25 that improves the Department's enforcement of the Carnival and Amusement Rides Safety Act. Sponsored by Rep. Angelo Saviano (R-River Grove) and Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), House Bill 4904 grants the Director the authority to legally obtain through subpoena any evidence related to an investigation or hearing, to establish training and qualification requirements for amusement ride inspectors and increases the membership of the Carnival-Amusement Safety Board from five to eight members.

IDOL regulates the amusement park and ride/attraction industry in Illinois and ensures that rides are safe and in compliance with state laws.  Any person who operates an amusement ride or amusement attraction open to the public -- without having obtained a permit from the Illinois Department of Labor -- is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.  If you find someone who is operating rides or attractions illegally or without the required State of Illinois permit, please report it immediately to local law enforcement and IDOL at 217-782-9347.

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