IDHS inspectors perform safety checks on Indiana State Fair rides before opening day

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — More than a dozen Indiana Department of Homeland Security inspectors descended up the Indiana State Fairgrounds early Thursday. The job of the 14 inspectors is simple: make sure every one of the 53 rides the fair will be featuring this year adheres to safety and operational standards.

“They will look at them mechanically, look at the setup, make sure barriers are the appropriate space from the ride itself, they’ll make sure the ride runs within the parameters of the manufacturer’s designation,” said IDHS director of public relations John Erickson. “It's all about making sure the rides adhere to the Indiana code.”

Over the last week, amusement rides have come under scrutiny following an incident at the Ohio State Fair, which resulted in one person’s death and the injury of several others. Erickson says it's too early to comment on what went wrong in Ohio, but added when it comes to the Indiana State Fair he’s confident inspectors will make sure rides are safe and performing the way they should.

“As I’ve said time and time again, if my kids want to ride these rides when I come to the state fair I’m going to allow them to do that because I know that they’ve been inspected by the agency that I work for,” he said.

The IDHS also recommends patrons of the fair familiarize themselves with a few general safety tips to help ensure the safest experience possible. Those tips are as follows:

  • Don’t board a ride if broken parts or signs of improper maintenance are visible. Also, don’t board a ride if there is an inattentive operator. Report observations to the ride operator or call the IDHS amusement ride hotline at 1-888-203-5020.
  • Every ride should have a prominently displayed, current permit issued by IDHS. If the ride has no such permit, call the amusement ride hotline at 1-888-203-5020.
  • Read all posted rules and listen to instructions given by ride operators.
  • Watch the ride with children before allowing them to board. Point out the operator and the entrance and exit locations prior to riding. Make sure children understand the instructions and warnings fully.
  • Obey minimum height, age and weight restrictions. Never sneak children onto rides if they are too small or too young. A smaller/younger child may not be physically or developmentally able to stay safely seated.
  • If children can’t be counted on to stay seated with hands and feet inside, don’t let them ride.
  • Keep all body parts (hands, arms, legs, long hair, etc.) inside the ride at all times. Anyone with long hair should keep it pulled up with a hat or hair tie.
  • Always use the safety equipment provided (seat belt, shoulder harness, lap bar, etc.).
  • Remain in the ride until it comes to a complete stop at the unloading point. If a ride stops temporarily due to mechanical failure or other reasons, stay seated and waits for an operator to give further instructions.
  • Knowing personal physical condition and limitations is important. Do not participate in any ride that could put health at risk or that could aggravate a pre-existing condition.

This year’s Indiana State Fair will feature more than 50 rides. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security says if anyone has serious concerns about any of them the can contact their hotline at 1-888-203-5020 or email rides@dhs.in.gov.

Discounted tickets to the fair are available until 11:59 p.m. Thursday. They run at $8 and can be purchased online at indianastatefair.com and at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center Box Office, located inside the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. After that, general admission will be $12. Children 5 and under get in free.

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