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Theme Parks Abroad: What are the Dangers?

With more and more families, young adults and groups of friends going abroad for cheaper holidays each year, it makes sense that our social networking feeds, lunchtime anecdotes and water-cooler anecdotes are being filled with travel adventure stories.

Going to foreign attractions such as theme parks often get a starring role - unique experiences at exotic parks is an excuse for people to tell others about their incredible rides and other experiences.

The theme park industry has blown up in recent years, with rapid international expansion happening globally. More and more theme parks are including features such as strolling musicians, performers and costumed characters who perform to the public for free next to rides; more theme parks are starting to include a family appeal, not just advertising for their young adult target audience - smaller, gentler rides are being introduced for younger children and group rides are introducing family-friendly elements.

Higher standards of cleanliness and customer service are also driving hordes of people to foreign theme parks in their droves, and higher investments in rides by theme park management mean that people are now booking holidays based entirely on the attraction of certain rides and visiting specific, unique parks.

However, despite the innovation and ideas behind some of these foreign rides, there are a small minority of visitors to theme parks abroad who often end up taking an unexpected trip to a foreign hospital.

Numerous accidents occur in theme parks across the world throughout the year, so these incidents only serve to highlight the dangers of theme park and water park rides in other countries. Whilst most people that are on holiday and choose to visit a theme park are likely to have a great, safe time, it is important that you are aware that foreign destinations may not have the same stringent health and safety instructions as the UK. Being aware of the activity's dangers is essential before you get on a ride.

By following these simple measures that Alpha have drawn up, you should experience a great holiday, and have an incredible time at your chosen theme park:

Stay cool

Being in a theme park or water park for an entire day sounds like a lot of fun, but it can also come with some dangers. More theme park visitors suffer from things like sunburn, rashes, heat exhaustion and heatstroke than any other injuries put together. Water is your best friend - most people forget to hydrate and keep cool during the summer months as they rush round the rides looking for the next thrill, but unless you're used to working outside you won't be used to the amount of water you'll need to make up for all of the sweat you'll be producing (not just during the summer months).

Make sure you reapply sunscreen throughout the day, both sweat and water from the rides can rinse it off and you'll end up with the classic Thorpe-Park shade of red across your back and face if you're not careful.

Be aware of your surroundings

Simple collisions are one big reason behind many theme park injuries. Be aware of where you are and what is around you.

Don't enter restricted areas

There's a reason these areas are restricted - don't enter them! Don't climb or hop over fences or walk through employee-only gates. If you drop something that falls into the area, ask a park employee to fetch it for you.

Know yourself

Read a ride's boarding restrictions before you get in line and wait. If you are pregnant, have pains in either your back or neck, have a heart condition or are simply not tall enough, you will not be able to go on the rides.

If you are overweight or have high blood pressure, you can be put at risk by going on some of the high-speed twistier rides. Skip the big roller coasters and simulator rides unless you've checked that you're fine to go with a doctor.

Too many incidents occur in theme parks because of undiagnosed medical conditions. Make sure you know your health condition - and that of any children you may be visiting with - before you travel.

Don't bend the rules

Don't ignore the rules and restrictions set by the ride before you get on. You might think a ride looks tame, but there are sometimes hidden or potential problems which can happen that visitors aren't always aware of - especially if it's their first time on the ride. Height and safety restrictions are there for a reason.

Stay locked in to stay safe

On any theme park ride, you will be asked to keep your bum on the seat, your hands on the grab bar and your feet and knees inside the car.

If there is no grab bar, make sure you keep your hands on your lap. If you're riding one of the 'floorless' rides, relax your legs and let them dangle. Don't kick them out to the side or front.

If you are on a ride with a lap bar, seat belt or safety harness, make sure that when it is in place, it fits snugly and is locked. If the ride begins to move and your harness is not in place, immediately shout for help and grab an employee's attention.

Do not get on or off the ride until you've been given the okay by an attendant to do so.

Warn staff about problems

If you see absolutely anything wrong - a broken restraint, a person jumping the line, or anything else which is bound to potentially jeopardise the safety of another park visitor, alert a park employee immediately. They are there to keep you safe, and may not have noticed - make them aware so you can keep others (and yourself) safe too.

Take out travel insurance

Should anything happen that requires you to have emergency medical attention from the local authorities, having travel insurance can make sure that after everything, you aren't faced with an unexpected huge medical bill. Not many people realise that foreign hospitals operate more like businesses and any form of treatment requires payment. Alpha travel insurance policies have cover for up to £10,000,000 worth of medical expenses as well as offering customers cover for cancellation, lost, stolen or damaged possessions, legal expenses and personal liability expenses.

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