The biggest issue with inflatables at the moment is probably the lack of inflatable safety measures being taken by many companies in various areas. This is problematic, especially when inflatable accidents are almost totally preventable with the correct supervision and installation. As you know, with anything comes a few apples, so, in a lot of cases, these accidents may still occur. However, it is very concerning when state governments and local townships do not require any type of regulations regarding inflatable installation or safety.
As I have mentioned before, some of these states are beginning to see how dangerous it can be to allow renters to simply set up inflatables on their own. According to an article in The Register-Guard, restrictions are now being prompted by a number of accidents that have left some people injured:
“Last month, a YouTube video of a gust of wind sending three inflatables flying into a crowd of people in New York went viral. Thirteen people were hurt in the accident, one seriously. In Salem, five people waiting to ride down an inflatable slide shaped like the Titanic ended up hospitalized after the slide tipped over during the 2003 Bite of Salem. Salem Police said they thought improper anchoring of the slide caused it to blow over in the wind. Oregon’s failed legislation would have brought inflatables under state oversight.”
What’s truly surprising about Oregon’s lack of regulations is that it extends to all amusement park rides, not just inflatables. The article says that there are 11 states that leave these types of safeguards to the private sector, which can potentially lead to fatalities and other accidents.
Because of the aforementioned accidents, many states are beginning to reexamine the need for safety rules when it comes to not just inflatables, but carnival rides as well. This may not change for six states though – Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming have no regulations at all, even in the private sector.
I’m always talking about inflatables as a means of having fun – i.e. bounce houses, jumper combos, inflatable yacht slides, etc. These are all viable means of using inflatables, but there is also another type of inflatable that is incredibly useful for business owners – advertising inflatables. You’ve seen them before – my guess is that you have seen those crazy air dancers bouncing about in the wind in front of a store that recently opened in your area. We all enjoy these types of displays…well, most of us anyway.
There is a lawsuit about advertising inflatables currently on appeal that is making its way through the Medina Township in Ohio, according to the Medina Sun. The township has a ban in place for inflatables being displayed on buildings for any reason. Two businessmen filed a lawsuit after being slapped with fines for displaying such an inflatable:
“Bill Doraty and Dave Scherba, who claimed in a lawsuit that the township zoning code’s ban on inflatables was unconstitutional, say they plan to appeal judge Donald Nugent’s decision last week in favor of the township…the dealership was cited for displaying the inflatables on the dealership’s roof. Doraty and Scherba were seeking an undisclosed amount of damages for the citations as well as legal fees and revisions in the zoning code, which they said was unconstitutionally vague. They claimed it violated their rights to freedom of speech, due process and equal protection under the first, fifth and fourteenth amendments.”
The major reasoning for the township’s law against inflatables is due to three specific points, according to the article: safety concerns, driver distraction and the permission for sexually explicit storefronts to display prurient inflatables. The township’s representation remains steadfast against the lawsuit enacted by Doraty and Scherba, regardless of any boost to either’s business.
Do you think that advertising inflatables should be protected by first amendment rights?
If you’re an advocate of inflatables at parties and enjoy a good bounce on a jumper combo or zipping down an inflatable slide, you may not want to read this blog post. You might get a little upset. Yet another town is looking into banning inflatable children’s play areas, but not for the reasons that you may think.
According to the story from Lubbock Online, residents of the town have moved towards banning inflatables from all but 20 city parks and leveraging large fees for the inflatables usage:
“Neighbors around Wagner Park complained of droning generators, increased traffic and damage. The bounce houses flattened grass and broke sprinkler systems paid for with public money, they said. “The sound of children laughing is delightful,” said Marion Livingston, a neighbor to one of the parks. “The sound of a generator is not.” But small-business owners told the council they felt ambushed. They had little input into the proposed new law.”
One of the fees added is a minimum $25 to have inflatables on park property, with requirements on using town electricity and enforcing the need for an employee on hand at all times while in use. Although the small business owners are perturbed by these new (possible) regulations, the measure didn’t pass before. However, the town officials seem driven to move this legislation through, even though some leeway was given:
“Mayor Tom Martin had city staff play footage from a Long Island, N.Y., news report of a bounce house blown across a park by a strong gust of wind, injuring children. Council members removed a prohibition on staking down the equipment against the West Texas wind. The ban was proposed to limit damage on city sprinkler systems.
He had no problem changing the ordinance to ban the inflatables in parks like Wagner with homes on all sides. But many parks in his North and East Lubbock district have schools and train tracks for neighbors, and he saw no need to force families to go farther for parties.”
Do you think towns need to go this far to enforce more safety for inflatables? Or are they going too far?
There is one hot product out there right now that may give bounce houses and inflatable yacht slides a run for their money – inflatable pools. Instead of sinking thousands and thousands of dollars into installing an in-ground or above-ground pool, many families have decided to sink hundreds into buying inflatable pools. As I mentioned last week, the installation is simple, but there are still safety measures that need to be followed.
Aside from these safety concerns, some towns have begun cracking down on little known regulations for some inflatable pools. According to the Norwich Bulletin :
“Although easy to set up, the pools have a secret that often goes unidentified when a buyer is purchasing the pool: Any pool deeper than 23 inches must have a city permit, follow state regulations for safety and may require extra home insurance. Norwich building official James Troeger said the city issues a half-dozen permits for portable pools each year, but the actual number of inflatable pools in the city could be in the hundreds.”
The article says that the enforcement is difficult because there is little to no education regarding these statutes given to those purchasing these pools. Retailers do not have to inform customers of any such regulations, which may actually dissuade some from purchasing. For this reason, many people have no idea that they need to spend more money to set up the pool according to the law.
“And those costs add up, Sprague Building and Zoning Officer Joseph Smith said. In addition to $80 in zoning permit fees — $58 of that goes to the state — pool owners in Sprague also must pay $50 for a building permit and $35 for an inland/wetland review. And if a resident is not hooked into the municipal sewer system, a separate fee is required by the local health district.”
No matter what the regulations are, I think people will buy inflatable pools anyway. What do you think?