LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi is one of eight states without an amusement park ride safety regulation law, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The Commission has authority over several kinds of amusements including trampoline parks, rock climbing walls, ropes courses and portable amusement rides, like those found at the South Mississippi Fair.
"A portable amusement ride is differentiated by its ability to be transported from location to location and can frequently be found at local fairs and traveling carnivals," according to CPSC's 2015 directory of state amusement ride safety officials. "According to the best available information, eight states do not have state-administered inspection programs for portable rides, and eight states and the District of Columbia do not have state-administered inspection programs for fixed-site rides. While authority under each state's legislation differs, the main purpose is to prevent deaths and injuries on amusement rides through the early identification of unsafe and defective rides."
In Mississippi, individual cities and municipalities have jurisdiction over required inspections for permanent and portable rides and inflatables in their respective areas, according CPSC.
Amusement rides for the South Mississippi Fair are provided by Michigan-based Wade Shows, Inc., who said it inspects rides for safety ahead of their opening.
"We have a qualified staff of managers, inspectors and ride operators who inspect the equipment prior to opening each day," their website stated.
Todd Eich, general midway manager for Wade Shows, Inc., has worked with the company for almost 20 years and said safety is a priority.
"Our operators come down an hour before we open, and they individually inspect each ride according to a checklist that the state, the insurance company and our company provides," Eich said.
Wade Shows, Inc. also said its insurance company hires an independent safety consultant to inspect all rides each year.
"Maintenance and safety work is performed at our state of the art work facility on an annual basis, keeping our equipment in top running condition," the company said. "Wade Shows has an excellent safety record and we want the experience of each of our customers to be the best it can be when visiting the Wade Shows midway."
Eich said those consultants are certified by the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO).
"They come out and double check our work to make sure that everything is double checked, triple checked and that everything's in place and properly (set up) before we open," he said.
Eich said each ride has its own safety checklist, and the company follows the same safety standards wherever they go. So Mississippi's lack of regulation doesn't really matter.
"We do the same job every week, so for us, it's just a second nature thing for us to come around and inspect the rides and make sure they're right," Eich said. "Our checklist is the same and our safety regulations are the same every week. Like I say, we just go over our list, and we double check them. We make sure we're ready to open."
He said riders can help keep themselves safe by being sure to wear appropriate clothes and shoes.