Last weekend we took a drive to Belgium to an ice sculpture exhibit. While there we decided to ride the ice slide which might have more aptly been named the slide of definite injury and possible death. Essentially this was a decent sized curved slide made of ice. There were small cafeteria-style trays at the bottom of the slide for you to sit on as you came down. There was not, however, any signage indicating the dangers of the slide or that you ride at your own risk. There was also no employee regulating the traffic flow on the slide. Now, I can tell you that cafeteria trays plus downward sloped ice are very, very fast. I can also tell you that children going down ice that fast can get both scared and hurt, and adults going down ice that fast will likely break something while pretending to be neither scared nor hurt! Luckily we escaped with just one smashed finger that has healed quickly, but we witnessed large adults shooting off the slide and slamming into the floor on their sides, backs and faces. We also watched a pregnant woman shoot off and land on all fours, barely avoiding having her stomach hit the ground. And this was all we could observe at the bottom before having to get out of the area for fear of being knocked over by one of the sliders as they performed their aerial dismount.
Now imagine this slide in the US-no disclaimer, no monitoring; one of those victims of the slide would have sued before they even hit the ground! This isn’t the first time that we have witnessed this kind of thing in Europe. Here it seems very unregulated while in the US there is a disclaimer on everything. But, interestingly enough, here in The Netherlands, we have liability insurance which protects us from liability on everything from our dog biting someone to our kids breaking a window with their ball. It even protects us if we ruin our friend’s furnishings while eating at a party at their house! Now I’m not saying this insurance doesn’t exist in the US, but it doesn’t cost too much here and it seems that most everyone has it unlike in the US. Now, I can only assume there is something like liability insurance for the company providing rides such as the ice slide in addition to the fact that the culture is just not as prone to suing, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in Europe, they just figure if you are dumb enough to sled down a slide made of ice on a tray then you just have to accept the consequences and they don’t need to post a sign to explain that!