Making Fun Safer
Adventure parks and zip line canopy tours provide a thrill for guests, but managing these parks effectively means making safety a top priority. Because the majority of major incidents occur when guests disconnect from the safety system, it is important to provide proper training and the safest belay system possible.
Q: We operate an adventure park and are concerned about the safety of our guests. What should we know?
A: There are several crucial steps to ensuring your park is as safe as possible. Safety should be built into your park from the beginning, with proper construction, policy and procedures that follow the guidelines of the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT).
Ensure your staff members are trained and drilled in effective policies and procedures. In addition, be sure they are trained in emergency response, and make an emergency response plan part of your policy.
Once your park is built and staffed, conduct routine inspections, including a review of policy, procedures and the emergency plan. Proper guide-to-guest ratios are also crucial, and guides should inspect harnesses, pulleys, tethers and helmets at each use.
Finally, rely on the best tools to ensure guests are safe while using your park. Because most incidents occur when guests disconnect from the safety system, you should consider using a continuous closed belay system. This type of system will not allow guests to disconnect from the safety system accidentally or on purpose. And, if an emergency rescue situation does arise, this type of belay system will not require a cut-away procedure to facilitate a rescue.
Q: We have an existing adventure park and want to improve safety. What should we consider?
A: To improve safety at your park, you should consider retrofitting with a continuous closed belay system, which prevents guests from disconnecting. You can find continuous closed belay systems that are compatible with just about any equipment on the market that are simple to install, cost-effective and will improve safety at your park.
A continuous closed belay system consists of a lightweight hook that slides onto the line, with cross plates that enable left/right passages on platforms. Because there are no mechanical elements, accidental unlocking is impossible.
This type of system has the added benefit of reducing maintenance, as there are no trolleys to change or repair.
A continuous closed belay system will provide peace of mind, as guests who are transferring will be safe.
Q: What else should we know?
A: Look for a continuous closed belay system with no moving parts or mechanical parts. The safety hooks should feature clear wear markings that will alert you when a piece needs replacement. Some hooks will show wear faster than others. For hooks that do not generally wear, look for stainless steel.
Also, don't forget that lines stretch. With longer lines of more than 400 feet, temperature changes and use can affect line length. Make sure you look for a belay system that makes it simple to adjust or replace your lines.
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