Inflatable Safety Concerns for 2012

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The inflatables industry has been hit with a number of problems in recent years, primarily due to accidents and other safety issues plaguing otherwise well-meaning activities. We have discussed a few of the more pronounced accidents that have occurred over the last few years in this blog, from two young girls in Arizona suffering concussions to a bounce house getting blown across a field in New York. Whatever the reasons are for the injuries from inflatables every year, there is one issue that needs to be discussed before the New Year – inflatable safety regulation.

More and more, states are realizing the need for laws when it comes to inflatables, especially rental inflatables. An article in the Austin American-Statesman discusses the lack government intervention when it comes to inflatables:

“The Texas Department of Insurance is legally responsible for keeping an eye on what in the industry are known as continuous airflow inflatables — and by millions of birthday party guests as bouncy houses and jumpolines…its oversight can seem underwhelming. The typical penalty for operators who consistently refuse to comply with state rules requiring that they carry liability insurance and get each of their units inspected once a year is a series of strongly worded letters under department letterhead.”

The article says that the furthest the state can go is to issue an injunction against inflatable operators, but it has never happened. Even when one inflatable company owner complained and sent in proof of non-compliance, the state basically did nothing. However, this isn’t just a problem in Texas- many states have trouble keeping inflatable companies in line. Thankfully, there is some support coming in the way of safety:

“The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that bounce houses and other inflatables caused as many as 31,000 injuries receiving emergency room treatment between 2003 and 2007. Operators note most of the injuries are relatively minor — contusions, sprains, limb fractures — and more often the fault of lax adult supervision than equipment failure. Still, this summer, the nonprofit Consumers Union urged the agency ‘to investigate this emerging hazard.’”

When you rent out an inflatable for a party or other event this upcoming year, make sure the company you work with is properly certified and trained. You can never be too careful.