Can Inflatables Get Cushioned By Lubbock Town Authorities?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a town in Texas that was considering some very tough restrictions on inflatables and even a potential banning of them as a whole:

“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…”

In a recent followup from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the Parks and Recreation board in Lubbock is proposing softer regulations for bounce house installation in city parks. These rules would put more parks on the bounce house-friendly list – much to the chagrin of park neighbors. However, the council is not really springing for the proposal:

“The rentals bounced out of obscurity and landed with a thump on an early June council meeting. Neighbors…complained of noisy generators and damage to grass they blamed on the party equipment. The earliest version of the regulations drew complaints from rental companies that said they had no warning of or input to the proposed rules.”

The article says that the first ordinance would also make the overall business of renting inflatables more expensive and difficult for inflatable companies. They would have required paid staff on hand at all times and the inflatables would be a huge risk due to regulations that would prevent any staking of the houses into the ground. This – along with the added $25 fee – would not only make the bounce houses more expensive in general, they would be at risk of blowing over, potentially putting people in harm’s way.

Lubbock’s Town Council should really think this over long and hard – if you ban the ability to stabilize bounce houses in the ground, safety is being thrown away. What do you think about this town council’s overall attitude towards this issue?




Another Town Has Inflatable Problems

As of lately, inflatables have been getting a bad rap in a number of different areas across the country due to a number of different reasons. The major problem is the lack of safety regulations in some states that have led to accidents at parties and other gatherings. Another problem stems from local disagreements on the placement of inflatable advertisements – do they cause distractions for drivers and others? Are they an overall eyesore?

The main issue seems to be zoning regulations that face inflatables that are already not in the good graces of citizens and city authorities at the same time. A story in PJStar discusses the problems that Peoria, Illinois, has been having:

“Today, the city’s planners are tasked with handling zoning enforcement. Peoria has seven planners. Some of those planners have been at the forefront of the business complaints earlier this year for following up on citizen complaints about inflatable signs advertising a business’ grand opening or requesting teardrop signs or pennants be removed. Most communities do have ordinances regulating signage, and almost every city in the state has some sort of complaint-based zoning enforcement policy.”

This push against inflatable (and other) signage seems to rear its head when it is least possible to do anything rational about it. Some surrounding towns have figured out how to handle any issues with promotional inflatables while Peoria has wasted time toying with its ordinances, according to the article:

“Earlier this year, businesses like Great Clips in Far North Peoria and Einstein Brothers Bagels were critical of City Hall for its enforcement of grand opening signs, including large inflatable balloons. Great Clips’ owner said other cities and villages roll out the red carpet celebrating a new business, while Peoria is the ‘exact opposite.’”

While you should always follow local laws about signs for your business, there needs to be some clarity between what is allowed and what isn’t. By making the laws and ordinances complicated, you cost businesses and town officials time and money. How about this – inflatable signs are allowed indefinitely! Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?

Solar Power Inflatables

The range of uses for inflatable products never ceases to amaze me, week after week. We’ve covered a good number of these inflatables in this blog, from inflatable tanks to the wonderful inflatable yacht slide. This week, I’ve found an invention that seems to have the potential to trump a lot of other inflatables once it begins actual production. And it follows up where inflatable wind turbines left off.

An article from Energy Matters discusses the new inflatable solar technology being developed by a company called Heliovis that uses a chamber system to generate steam, which in turn becomes electricity:

“Heliotube is an inflatable tubular solar concentrator consisting of two chambers. A small difference in pressure between the upper and lower chamber causes the reflective film in the upper tube to curve downwards, forming a trough. Light travels through the Heliotube’s transparent skin and then reflects off the downward curved mirror film, concentrating the sunlight in the upper chamber on a thermal absorber receiver. Bouncing sunlight in this way focuses the solar radiation by a factor of up to 50.”

The Heliotube system could be a huge boon to the green movement around the world, creating the ability to sustain renewable energy in a number of various areas. It is also a lightweight system, due to its inflatable capabilities, which can make transport quite simple as well. Prototypes are being developed currently:

“Heliovis has already built and operated several prototype concentrators and the company is currently constructing  a pilot plant  in Dürnrohr, a village in Austria. 40 metres in length with a 1.6 metre aperture, the inflatable solar plant will generate temperatures of up to 320 degrees Celsius and pressures of up to 110 bar.”

Inventions like this show the relevance of inflatables in society, not just for fun in bounce houses, but also for advancing the technology we have begun to create.

Inflatables in the News

Ummm. Where’s the Panda? – I recently watched the movie Despicable Me and was impressed by how one supervillian stole one of the Egyptian pyramids and replaced it with an inflatable one. Don’t worry, that’s not a huge spoiler, it happens within 10 minutes of the movie starting. Nonetheless, a recent story in NewsOK reminded me of this evil feat:

“Duer Balloons & Promotions is offering a $200 reward for information about a giant panda balloon stolen from atop the building at Interstate 35 and Second Street on or around July 27. Dana Crawford, Duer executive assistant, said balloons such as the missing panda cost between $5,000 and $7,000.”

This heist was made easier because the custom inflatable was deflated for deconstruction, but it was still anchored to the building. The group usually uses rooftop advertising for large events in the Oklahoma area, according to the article.
For the Last Time – I’ve written about this a few times, but this will be the last time for this summer season – do not use inflatables in the ocean. You risk the chance that you’ll get swept away and stranded, like these people from a BBC article:

“The group was stranded after their dinghy was pulled out by the current near Haile Sand Fort, Cleethorpes, at about 18:00 BST on Tuesday. The woman and children – two teenagers and a small boy – were brought back to shore in North East Lincolnshire.”


We Want to Bounce! – Good news – at least in Florida – for inflatable rental companies from the Daytona Beach News-Journal: recent accidents haven’t quashed the inflatable business one bit:

“A spate of incidents around the nation this spring that injured at least 48 people as wind gusts toppled inflatables or slides collapsed doesn’t seem to have affected the demand here. ‘They are still very popular,’ said Magda Nel, owner of Premium Events in Port Orange, who’s been renting inflatables since 1998. ‘We haven’t had any lack of business down here.’”

Looks like inflatables are here to stay!