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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

Summer is here and that means you may be seeking out good, old-fashioned fun and thrills at amusement parks. Although you may be enjoying time with family and friends going from ride to ride and trying to win a big stuffed animal, you need to remember that amusement parks can be dangerous.

Sorry to be a buzzkill.

“Serious injuries at amusement and theme parks are rare, but the risk is real,” said family medicine doctor Rodger Sayre, MD, Geisinger Tunkhannock. “And minor mishaps also occur just about every day at most amusement parks.”

Here’s what you can do to make sure you stay healthy and safe.

1. Dress smart

You know it may be hot and that you’ll be doing a lot of walking, so it may be a no-brainer to wear lightweight clothes and comfortable closed-toed shoes. But there are a couple of more things you should keep in mind when getting dressed for the day.

“A day at the amusement park means you’ll be spending the day around major machinery,” Dr. Sayre said. “You should avoid wearing any baggy clothes or dangly jewelry that can get caught.”

Similarly, women and girls should secure, put up or braid long hair.

2. Protect yourself from the sun

If you’re planning on being at the amusement park during the day, you’ll need to take steps to protect your skin from sunburn and sun damage.

“Apply 1 ounce, or a shot glass size, of SPF 30 sunscreen about 30 minutes before going out in the sun,” Dr. Sayre said. “Make sure you’re reapplying every two hours or more frequently if you’re sweating or going on water rides.”

Sunglasses and a hat will further protect your face and head from the sun’s rays.

“Even if it’s cloudy or overcast, you should still protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays – they can still cause damage and sunburns even if it’s not sunny,” Dr. Sayre said. You should also consider taking breaks from direct sunlight by finding some shade throughout the day.

3. Stay hydrated

It can be easy to forget to stop and hydrate in between running from ride to ride, but it’s an incredibly important part of staying healthy at the park.

“Dehydration can come on quick, especially on a very hot day with high humidity,” Dr. Sayre said. “Drink plenty of water or sports drinks with electrolytes throughout the day to stay hydrated.”

Try to avoid drinking sugary or caffeinated beverages in an effort to stay hydrated.

“Be particularly mindful of how much your kids are drinking – they tend to sweat less but produce more heat,” Dr. Sayre explained. “Make sure they start off the day well hydrated and drink liquids all day.”

4. Follow the rules

The excitement and thrill of an amusement park could make it easy to forget about the importance of safety in order to prevent injuries.

“Don’t think about an amusement park’s rules as a buzzkill, but rather a way to keep you safe and continue having fun,” Dr. Sayre said. “Make sure you read all of the rules, follow height and age restrictions and relay those to your kids.”

Keep all body parts inside the ride, wear seatbelts, hold onto handrails when they’re provided, stay seated during a ride, and wait to get on and off rides until they come to a complete stop.
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