by Brandy Abalos


Kids are going back to school, and the weather is getting cooler. Fall is almost here! Along with the season comes fall festivals where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of games, rides and an all-time favorite—fair foods.
Before you visit your favorite fall festivals, read the following safety tips to make sure you have fun and avoid any potential problems.

Use hand sanitizer.

There are thousands of people at festivals and very few places to wash your hands. You might be touching animals and then turning around and going to a food stand. This is a ripe situation for bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. Keep hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse if you need to touch food or aren’t able to wash your hands. This will help you stay clean and keep you from spreading germs.

Make sure your child has your phone number.

It’s common to enter the gates at the festival and watch your children run off in different directions. Many of them want to go hang out with friends—away from your watchful eye. Make sure they get back to you by ensuring they have your phone number and that of an emergency contact. You might enter extra phone numbers into their phone, or if they don’t have a phone, you can write your phone number on their ride wristband. The wristband is difficult to remove and easy to see. If they get lost, it will be one of the first things someone will see when trying to help them find mom and dad.

Follow instructions on the rides.

Fall festivals often have rides that have traveled across the country for the enjoyment of thousands of people. They are tested regularly and maintained; however, accidents still happen. You can reduce the chances of an accident by following all of the rules and keeping your hands inside at all times. There will likely be a list of rules posted before you get on the ride. Make sure you review those. Then, listen to the festival worker, who will tell you any additional safety measures as you board the ride. If you have any questions, make sure you ask before the ride starts.

Make sure food vendors have permits and inspections posted.

All food vendors must have a permit from the local health department stating that they have been inspected. This will ensure that they are storing food properly and keeping it at appropriate temperatures. Inspections also review cleanliness and other health and safety processes. The permit should be posted in plain view, so you don’t have to ask about it. If you do have to ask, simply question whether they had to be inspected before opening this year or if there were any different requirements in the COVID environment. Any food vendor operating correctly shouldn’t have a problem with sharing the results of their health department inspection.

Avoid hazards on the ground.

You will likely be looking at the festival lights around you and not paying attention to the ground. However, it’s common for vendors, rides and games to have an extension and electrical cords running across walkways at festivals. Sandbags may be holding down tents and signage as well. There may be an array of hazards on the ground at your fall festival. Keep an eye out as you walk around and point out hard-to-navigate areas to the staff so they can fix the issues.

Be aware of allergy issues.

Festival food vendors often offer multiple different foods from the same location. In fact, they often use the same frying oil and pans to cook. If a vendor sells something with peanuts, peanut dust will likely be all over their other offerings. It’s probably best to avoid that vendor if you have a peanut allergy.

Food vendors also attract bees and other insects. If anyone in your family has a bee allergy, they should avoid the windows at the vendors that offer sweeter foods, which often attract stinging insects.

Hay, flowers and other plants are also common at festivals. Sometimes hay is even offered as a place to sit in barns and outdoor locations. If you’re allergic, avoid these locations and opt for picnic tables or chairs available elsewhere.

Take a picture of your child that day.

If your child gets lost, the authorities will want to know what they were wearing that morning. You can reference a picture you took before entering the festival to ensure you have details for the police to help you find your child—every detail matters when searching for one person amongst thousands.

Wear sunscreen.

Even though the sun may not be as harsh as it is in the summer, fall clouds can reflect the sun and make them more intense by the time they get to the ground. Sunburns can occur at any time of year. Wear sunscreen and frequently reapply, as you will likely be sweating as you walk around the fairgrounds.

Drink plenty of water.

It can be tempting to drink the sugary lemonades and colas at the festival; however, you still need plenty of water to stay hydrated. You might get busy with all of the fun and fail to realize how thirsty you are. This is common for children as well. Keep bottled water on you or order icy cold water from a food vendor as an extra treat.

Take a picture of the festival map.

If the festival publishes a map of where everything is located, take a picture of it so you can easily reference it on your phone. Agree to meet your family members at specific locations at a set time. Make sure everyone knows how to read the map.