Regulators Aim at Inflatables

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Is there anything more wonderful than a summer party? You’ve got your BBQ chicken, hot dogs, water balloons and the piece de resistance, a bounce house. I know that when I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get into the first moonwalk of the summer – with the jumping around and bouncing off the walls, it was a serious blast. Lately, there has been a cloud cast over inflatables for a number of reasons, primarily due to the number of accidents that have been occurring across the country.

An article from The Salt Lake Tribune lists four of the most concerning incidents:

• A 5-year-old girl was injured in Jacksonville, Fla., in January 2010 after an inflatable blew into a pond while she was in it.

• In June 2010, a Pennsylvania man was killed after an inflatable slide collapsed and pinned him at a Cleveland Indians game.

• In March 2010, a 5-year-old boy in Wichita, Kan., died after he fell from the top of an inflatable slide onto concrete.

• That same month, three children were seriously injured in El Paso, Texas, when an inflatable was thrown hundreds of feet into the air with them inside.

The primary reason for these accidents – cited by the article – is the overall lack of proper installation and supervision by inflatable rental companies. In the majority of states across the country, regulation doesn’t exist and where it does, it isn’t enough. One business owner quoted in the article talks about the serious lack of involvement from most companies:

“Rory Maclennan, who owns Jumptown Inflatables …said the New York accident likely happened because the inflatables were not set up properly. Most companies rent inflatables to private individuals, but set them up before leaving the renters in charge with an instruction manual. ‘The setup is the most important, and the anchoring is the biggest concern,’ he said.”

As accidents continue to occur at the hands of poorly instructed renters, there are some tips for you to follow to ensure that you and/or your children do not get hurt on inflatables:

  • Operator should be with the unit at all times.
  • Do not allow children 3 years and younger inside.
  • Organize users of the inflatable by size.
  • Don’t exceed maximum capacity.
  • Perform frequent safety checks.