Dehydration, sunburn, nausea or accidental injuries can ruin a family outing fast. Here are some tips from Elizabeth Ringas, a Richmond, Va.-based representative for the club American Coaster Enthusiasts:
• Sip water all day long. You’ll prevent symptoms of dehydration — including dizziness, headache and fatigue — and potential digestive issues. “Don’t wait until you feel thirsty and then try to gulp a whole bottle at once,” Ringas says.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
• Slather on sunscreen. Reapply it at least three times daily, or even hourly if you’re on lots of water rides.
• Dress appropriately. Don’t wear clothing with hoods or strings, which could get tangled on equipment. Tie back long hair.
• Check ride safety in advance … Visit www.saferparks.org for a nationwide database of safety complaints as well as general tips.
• … and in person. Skip attractions that don’t look well-maintained, creak or have worn safety straps. Also be sure ride operators are paying attention.
• Follow all rules. If you’re shorter — or taller — than the required height for a ride, don’t try to sneak on. If you’re not supposed to put your hands outside a car, don’t.
• Don’t pig out. To avoid motion sickness, limit foods that are greasy, fatty, spicy or high in sugar. Unless you’re sure of your stomach, wait about hour after eating to get on big rides (see a show or play games instead). Note: sitting at the front of roller coasters also can help with nausea.
• Don’t force kids on rides. A frightened child might try to jump off while a ride is in motion. Also take plenty of breaks — exhausted riders may skip safety steps or lack the strength to brace their bodies as needed on hills and curves.