We have all seen them – they look like giant, soft slides and castles. Often you see children playing and jumping on these inflatable playgrounds. They may be called “moonwalks,” “bounce houses,” or “inflatable rides.” What is not known is that these inflatables are dangerous and can be deadly.
Recently, on New York’s Long Island, three of these large inflatables took flight in the wind and seriously injured 13 people. According to RideAccidents.com, a website that tracks amusement ride accidents, at least 10 inflatables around the country have been toppled by winds or collapsed under too much weight in the past two months.
According to the spokesman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials, it is not the inflatables themselves that are the problem; but rather, it is the way that they are set up and supervised. According to Jim Barber, the spokesman, “these are probably the most dangerous amusement devices they have.”
In 2009, it is reported that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati banned inflatables at church festivals after a gust of wind tossed a slide about 70 yards while carrying a young boy. In June of 2010, it is reported that a Pennsylvania man died after an inflatable slide collapsed and pinned him at a Cleveland Indians game. In March of 2010, a five-year-old boy was killed after falling from an inflatable. In January of 2010 it is reported that winds blew a bounce house (inflatable) into a pond with a five-year-old girl inside. In Arizona of this year, a bounce house was blown onto a roof with two girls inside, and a boy and girl were blown in a bounce house across three lanes of moving traffic.
It is clear that these inflatable amusement devices, which are designed for and marketed to children, are dangerous and can be deadly. Make sure that if your child is going to be on or around one of these inflatables that all safety precautions are followed, that the inflatable is being supervised, that the inflatable is properly staked to the ground, and that the company providing the inflatables is properly insured for liability. Although there is a Texas law that requires these companies to carry insurance – I have personally seen that a few companies operating here in Houston do not carry the statutory insurance. Unfortunately for those that were badly injured, that information was not discovered until after they were severely injured. The best practice may be to just avoid these inflatables altogether. They are dangerous and can be deadly.