Safety Using Inflatables in Water

Some of my favorite memories from childhood include some kind of inflatable raft, float or just some type of inflatable game. I remember going down to Virginia Beach for vacation and getting to float over the waves – it was definitely a great time. When I returned home, the local beach had banned inflatables because of safety restrictions. I didn’t think it was fair and it certainly wasn’t as fun as it was on vacation. So what’s the hang up with inflatables in water?

It turns out that the vast majority of people don’t know anything about safety with inflatables in the water. An article from This Is Lincolnshire discusses some tips for how to protect yourself and your family from getting hurt while in the water with inflatables:

“Pete Barnard, sea safety officer at Skegness Lifeboat Station, said it was his greatest concern for tourists over the busy Easter and May Bank Holiday period. He said: “The main danger at Skegness is inflatables being blown out to sea. We have launched major campaigns with local shops to make sure they tell their customers to tie their inflatables to a tether.”

The major reason for tethering the inflatables is to ensure that no one falls into the water. According to the story, lifejackets should be worn with inflatables, because they can protect from cold water shock. One of the other concerns involves children who may be tethered in:

“When you get a kid on a little inflatable, even when they are tethered, kids could still fall in without a life jacket on.”

However unlikely it is, the article says that parents should leave any rescuing of errant children up to lifeguards in your area, even if you don’t live in Lincolnshire. You don’t want to risk your life as well – especially since the lifeguards in that area actually have a pretty good track record:

“A total of 67 people were rescued on the Lincolnshire coast last year and just under 250 people were aided by lifeguards.”


Fair Plans Exclude Inflatables

In the last few blog posts, the major issue I have focused on is inflatable safety, which has become a major point of contention in many areas of the country. Today, I was going to write about one plan to put inflatable hotels into space, but instead, I stumbled upon an important story that is causing debate in the inflatable games community.

Just recently, a board of school officials in Durham, Ontario, Canada, struck down a parental request to add inflatable structures to a school fun fair, according to an article from

‘Gordon Tewnion addressed the board recently, requesting the use of five air-filled devices, including a maze and a slide, for a May 26 fun fair at Lester B. Pearson Public School in Ajax. He would also like to use a bouncy castle. ‘I am pleading with you to allow us to use something new to liven up our event,’ said Mr. Tewnion.”

However, the request was denied because of a decision made by the board in the early 2000s. This decision to ban inflatables came from the guidance of an insurer, who named inflatables as a hazard. The article goes into more explicit detail:

“The board hasn’t allowed the devices since the early 2000s and Janet Edwards, superintendent of education for Ajax, said schools are reminded at the beginning of each school year not to use them. She said the board is concerned the use of inflatables could result in injuries such as concussion, dental damage and fractured limbs.”

I understand the decision not to allow inflatables in the school district as a rule, but as I have written before, if appropriate precautions and procedures are taken, then no one will get hurt. It’s all about having fun while maintaining the safety of participants. Come on Durham! Let the kids have some fun!



More Tips for Bounce House Safety

The summer is fast approaching and with the summer comes a slew of parties, barbecues and a whole host of inflatable games, jumper combos and bounce houses. I know that every party I went to didn’t have to have any inflatables at all, but I sure looked forward to going to the parties that did! There has been some concern over the last few years about the safety of bounce houses in particular, causing some parents to decide against having such amusements at their children’s’ parties. I have written about some of the incidents that have occurred during unsupervised or improperly installed bounce houses before, but you can never have enough information on how to keep yourself and your children safe on them.

One major tip that you may not know is to check for a sticker on the inflatable indicating that it has been inspected by proper authorities. This, according to a story from KEPR, is required in many states, including Washington:

“The Consumer Product Safety Commission last reported 4,900 emergency room visits in 2004 due to inflatable ride related injuries. Jay Wood, owner of the Country Mercantile north of Pasco, gives some tips to consumers, suggesting looking for a sticker, which must be displayed on every bounce house. He says, ‘Most of the accidents I hear are people to people, it’s not the structure that causes accidents, it’s people hitting each other and things like that.’”

Although the cost can be quite large for these inspections – $1000 per inflatable structure in Washington – it is certainly a small amount to ensure that those who want to have a jumper at their party can be safe. Having an attendant is also a considerable addition to the safety of any inflatables at events. The article focuses on those companies that are unlicensed in their inflatable operations, so do some research into the rental companies you may be using. Choosing a company with the proper licensing may cost a bit more, but isn’t protection of your children important as well?



Vermont’s Inflatable Hospital

Inflatables have become a major presence in the world of medicine and safety – just look at the last few blog posts I’ve written. We have patient movement systems made from inflatables to help nurses and medical professionals move large patients during surgery without disruption. There are also inflatable seat belts that can help save the lives of children sitting in the back seat of a car by adding an extra layer of protection between the belt and the chest. Lately, another step forward has been made in the medical safety field with inflatables, most notably the construction of an inflatable hospital in Vermont.

According to WCAX, the Central Vermont Medical Center owns an inflatable hospital for many reasons:

” ‘It will give us a place to triage patients and decide what we need to do with them. And if they really need IV fluid before we could send them home or something, we will be able to administer those in the back of it,” said Jean Peterson of Central Vermont Medical Center. Those who are deployed to emergencies were learning about the facility at a demonstration at the Barre Auditorium Thursday. This lesson was being taught by the hospital’s inventor who sells countless products across the country. His career as an emergency doctor led him to develop medical gear.”

This type of hospital is extremely useful and necessary in the aftermath of natural disasters, much like the earthquake in Japan. In these situations, most of the buildings that would have been used to treat the injured have been washed away, leaving no where for anyone to get medical attention. In the case of this one inflatable hospital, it can hold 16 people who need care during natural disasters or even to help in the case of quickly spreading pandemics.

Portable hospitals like this are deployed after natural disasters, big accidents or even fast moving diseases. Inflatable hospitals like this are essential to have in all areas of the world because you never know when disaster can strike. They may not be as fun as bounce houses or inflatable games, but this inflatable structure is crucial to have around.


Rules for Inflatable Safety

I’ve said it a bunch in this blog and I’ll say it again – there’s no better entertainment at a birthday party than a good old fashioned bounce house. Personally, I like bounce castles, but really any inflatable will do because they are all fun – even the inflatable games! However, no matter how young or old that you are, it is important to remember some rules when playing on bounce houses. Here are some rules to follow:

–          Figure out when the recommended footwear is for the specific inflatable. Most will allow socks and even bare feet, but you should always check before you get on.

–          Every bounce house has its own weight capacity due to air specifications and also space for each person. Find out what the rules for your inflatable are.

–          Obviously, if the inflatable begins to deflate, everyone should exit and get away from the structure. Failure to do so could end in injury.

–          If you are renting an inflatable for a party, make sure that the installation and delivery is handled by the company you are dealing with. This is the best way to ensure that the structure is as safe as possible.

–          Make sure the area where the inflatable is placed is clear of debris and other obstructions that could compromise the structure.

There are more rules that go along with the specific structure you are dealing with, so you should educate yourself about inflatables if you decide to have one at a party. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, inflatable safety is becoming more and more important:

“By making sure that a bounce house is absolutely, positively secured to the ground beneath it, less and less people will be put into danger.  After all, the most important part about bounce houses is that kids have fun playing in them, right? No one should be worrying about the safety of the bounce house once children are already playing in it.”