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Put safety first with carnival rides

We’re concerned about plans to delay implementation of a law that could save lives and prevent injuries at amusement parks and carnivals in Kansas.

The state Legislature passed a law in April that would require amusement park and carnival rides to be inspected once a year by a nationally certified inspector, or an engineer with experience inspecting amusement parks. The rides would also have to be inspected daily by their operators.

The bill was prompted by the death of Caleb Schwab on the Verruckt water slide at Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City in August. Caleb, who was 10, was the son of state Rep. Scott Schwab.

Caleb’s death exposed a lack of oversight of amusement park and carnival rides in Kansas. The slide Caleb died on was not inspected by the federal government, and state and local governments had little oversight regarding the safety of the slide.

In Kansas, the safety of amusement park and carnival rides is largely left to the owners of the parks and rides.

Sadly, an incident at a Wichita carnival on Friday raises questions about the safety of rides and appears to reinforce the need for inspections. A 15-month-old girl is in critical condition after police said she was possibly shocked by touching a wire outside a bouncy house.

A Westar employee later found that the wire was carrying 290 volts of electricity, according to a Westar spokeswoman.

Those who support a delay in implementation of the inspection law are concerned about its effects on what House Majority Leader Don Hineman described as “home-owned” carnivals. He suggested they would need a year to adjust and evaluate the rules.

We understand the need to set up the framework for the inspection law.

We don’t understand why it would take a year, or why the needs of carnival and amusement park owners should be put ahead of safety.

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