Inflatable Safety

There are few things more fun than jumping on a bouncy house or castle. Inflatables are a staple of so many parties and children’s events that it is safe to assume that everyone reading this has seen some kind of inflatable at one point or another. Upon first glance, inflatable structures just look like a fun amusement ride or distraction for your kids, but there are a lot of concerns that come up when dealing with inflatables.giftbox art L

According to this column from the Star Exponent, between the years of 2003 and 2007, more than 31,000 people were injured and hospitalized due to inflatable ride accidents. The column, written by a certified inspector from the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials, discusses the dangers that come with inflatable rides and what you should look out for when allowing your children to play on them:

“The Virginia Amusement Device Regulations provide the requirements that amusement device operators should follow to operate their rides safely. There is a required permit fee that ranges between $25-$35, depending on the size of the unit, which also governs how often the unit requires an inspection.

If the square footage is 150 or greater and the height of the containment area is 10 feet or greater, then it requires an inspection each time it is set up. Inflatables that do not exceed those numbers would receive an annual inspection. In addition there is a liability insurance requirement that has to be met in order to obtain a permit. Operators are required to have $100,000 liability insurance per person and $1 million in the aggregate for each amusement device.”

Although these are standards based on Virginian regulations, find out what your state’s rules are regarding these rides, particularly if you are having a bouncy castle for your child’s next birthday party. Also, if your child is playing on inflatable rides, do relax, but make sure that you are keeping an eye on them. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Beware the Inflatable Rat

I think that we all love a good bounce on an inflatable bouncy house. Is there anything more fun than jumping around for an hour or two? It’s just a lot of fun. That’s the base level for inflatables it would seem. In the last few weeks, I’ve written about some really interesting inflatable items like an inflatable hospital and inflatable tanks and jets. This week, I have something even stranger than that to share with you.

The Washington Post has a story about a labor union and their inflatable rat. A rat you say? Oh yes – it’s a rat. Why would a labor union need a rat? For a simple reason, according to the story:PH2010100102939

“A labor union in Washington will on occasion be upset with somebody. Contract negotiations go awry. Nonunion workers get hired. At these moments, you need a symbol. You need something that is going to attract the attention of passersby, something that your members can rally around during their protest, something that is so hideous that the company whose building it sits in front of will do just about anything to get you to move it. You need access to a rat.”

The custom inflatable rat is only one of many across the country that are used by unions in widespread fashion. Whenever union contracts are in dispute or nonunion workers are hired for good jobs, a big inflatable rat goes up, representing the unions’ collective disgust. Unfortunately, there has been a bit of controversy:

“There have been debates over the legality of the rat. In 2003, for example, a hospital filed charges against a union of sheet-metal workers in Florida, claiming that the giant inflatable rat that the workers had been using to protest was an unfair labor practice. The Cardozo Law Review ran an article: ‘Is a Giant Inflatable Rat an Unlawful Secondary Picket?'”

I don’t know which way the National Labor Relations Board will rule, but a decision will come down soon. They have a rat case on the docket.

Hollywood Park Family Fun Day

There are simply not enough events that bring together activities that both parents and children can enjoy alongside each other. Usually scheduled fun days either focus entirely on kid’s activities or adult activities, but usually they aren’t mixed!

Well, Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California, is looking to change this trend with its Family Day this Sunday, October 17th from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. During most days, Hollywood Park is a premiere race track that opened in June of 1938, which was also the inaugural year of the Hollywood Gold Cup, which would come to be known as Hollywood Park’s signature race. According to the Hollywood Park website:

“The legendary Seabiscuit was victorious in 1938’s inaugural running of the Hollywood Gold Cup, the track’s signature race which would be won 11 times by Thoroughbreds distinguished as Horse of the Year: 1938, Seabiscuit; 1940, Challedon; 1951, Citation; 1956, Swaps; 1957, Round Table; 1971, Ack Ack; 1979, Affirmed; 1987, Ferdinand; 1990, Criminal Type; 1995, Cigar; 1998, Skip Away.”

This Sunday will be quite a day for all of the family to enjoy. While parents take turns betting and watching live horse racing from the stands, the kiddies will be able to enjoy a number of activities – from inflatables to pony rides to face painting. While the Family Fun Day activities start at noon and last until 4, make sure to get to the park before 1 p.m., so you can take part in the live horse racing that’s taking place!

A quick reminder as well, there will also be fun at the Calabasas Pumpkin Festival, coming up this weekend, October 16th and 17th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. This event is taking place at the Juan Bautista de Anza Park, right off the 101 Freeway. Besides pumpkin themed activities, there will be pumpkin beer and baked pumpkin goods! Southern California events just don’t get any better!

Inflatable Jets and Tanks

Inflatables are seen all over the place during the year, particularly in the summer time, when there are a lot of outdoor parties with bounce houses. Inflatables are also seen throughout the year as promotional materials, like blimps flying over a car dealership or a giant inflatable representing a new store’s grand opening. In this blog, we have talked about inflatable hospitals and other important kinds of inflatables – after looking through the news online, I discovered another way that inflatables are being used in ways other than recreation or promotion.

The Moscow Times of Russia is reporting the Russian army is thinking about having inflatable tanks, jets and other military items made. A company called Rusbal, based out of Moscow, makes inflatable missiles, jets and tanks that are all life-sized and apparently difficult for radars and satellites to distinguish from the real thing. These inflatables would serve as a decoy to enemy forces, who would take down the fake planes and tanks without noticing the real elements moving in the air and ground:

“The realism of the inflatables has attracted considerable interest not only from the military, which reportedly deployed test versions of the blow-up tanks during the 2008 conflict with Georgia, but also from Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, Talanov said. The only differences between a real and inflatable tank are price and weight. An inflatable T-80 tank runs for 187,000 rubles ($6,000), according to Rusbal’s web site, while a real T-80, which is no longer produced, can cost $100,000 to $1 million depending on its condition.”

Inflatables are a great source of fun for people at parties, grand openings and other events that require such entertainment. The thing to remember is that inflatables can be used for a plethora of other reasons that may better the world around us – like inflatables hospitals and inflatable military items.