Is there any better way to cool off during the summer than going to a water park with your friends? You can work on your tan, see who can do the biggest cannonball, and chill in the lazy river. That’s great, but do you know all the things that can kill you at a water park? Those places are essentially death traps waiting for you to pay admission. Every year there are multiple water slide deaths, and even though there are life guards on duty, there’s really not much security in place that can keep you from drowning or worse while you’re trying to have a relaxing afternoon with your friends.
There isn’t a summer that goes by without myriad water park deaths taking over your local news station, frightening would-be water slide aficionados from going HAM in the lazy river, and while it might seem like water park deaths are just something cooked up on a slow news day, there are actually a lot of ways to die at a water park. There are the obvious ways of dying, like drowning, or a slide collapsing - but what about killer bacteria? Or explosions? The next time you're waiting for your turn at the top of a water slide, remember these terrible ways to die at a water park - and make sure you keep your floaties on.
Water parks may be the grossest kind of amusement park you can visit. There are kids running around, people are definitely peeing in the lazy river, and you never know what gross summer cold someone is carrying around with them. To combat the germs that people carry with them, water parks use muriatic acid and sodium hydrochlorite, two common household pool chemicals, to clean their water. But here's the rub: when those things combine they can create chlorine gas. When you inhale the gas, your air passages are obstructed, you start vomiting, and if you breathe enough of the deadly substance, your entire insides spew out of your body and you die.
On July 11, 2014, at Michigan's Adventure, more than 50 of the park's visitors were hit with a chlorine gas cloud and had to be evacuated from the park before the situation turned deadly. Muskegon County Hazmat Official and Muskegon Heights Fire Chief Christopher J. Dean said, "Normally, it's so diluted it doesn't create a problem. It's too early to make a clear determination on what caused it."
Unfortunately, that wasn't just a one-time occurrence. A year later, 34 children had to be evacuated from a water park in Antioch, California, and treated for minor respiratory issues after being exposed to a chemical cloud.
Despite everyone knowing that water and electricity don't mix, man has insisted on putting electrically powered machines smack dab in the middle of water parks. Most rides are actually pretty safe for park visitors, but for the workers who make sure they're running properly, death can be waiting around the corner. In November 2016, Leopoldo Buenaventura was working on the Men in Black: Alien Attack ride at Universal Orlando and received enough of a shock that his heart stopped. He was alone while he was working and wasn't found until 2 AM after dying in the rafters of the ride.
It turns out that water park slides don't even have to be faulty to be dangerous, and if you don't use them the way they were intended, you could die. On December 21, 2016, a 16-year-old boy from Florida broke into an area that contained an outdoor water slide at a resort in Lake Delton,Wisconsin, and decided to take a trip. Because this was the middle of winter, there was a bunch of snow on the slide, and the teen found himself stuck about half-way through his trip. When he tried to free himself, he fell about 35 feet to the ground. Authorities say a paramedic happened to be driving by the water park at the time and hopped the fence with a defibrillator, but the teen died from his injuries.
Obviously, the greatest threat to human life in a water park is drowning. With all of that water, and under-trained seasonal employees, it's hard to believe that there aren't more drowning deaths every year. At the Wild Waves Water Park in Washington state, a 32-year-old man was submerged for over 15 minutes before lifeguards found his body.
According to Time, a group of children had alerted a life guard to the man's body much earlier, but the 21-year-old guard assumed they were pranking him. The man's body wasn't found until another life guard dove into the pool to retrieve a guest's glasses. According the deceased's friend, he had mentioned that he wasn't a strong swimmer before going to the park.
If you can't swim, or aren't great at swimming, please stay home. Or work on your tan. Just don't get in the water if you don't think you can handle it.