Inflatable Amusement Device Safety
Over the last 10 years or so the inflatable industry has experienced a growth explosion. Prior to that, you could mention the word inflatable and people would give you a puzzled look. You would follow-up by giving a description and provide some additional terms such as moon-bounce or spacewalk and a light bulb would go off; oh, I get it! Wow! How things have changed.
Today, indoor inflatable locations and outdoor rentals are a staple for many events. An inflatable device can be many things. To be clear, we are discussing inflatable amusement devices. The kind that you can bounce on, climb over, slide down and crawl through. They can be dry, wet or a combination of the two. Inflatable devices used for amusement purposes generally are classified under the broad heading of amusement rides and devices. Standards exist that address the operation, design and inspection of inflatable amusement devices for both indoor and outdoor applications.
The popularity of these devices can be attributed to the several things. They are portable, mechanically simplistic and require very limited investment. They are the exact opposite of a typical amusement ride or device, allowing an inexperienced entrepreneur an opportunity to capitalize on the benefits of operating an amusement device. Ah ha! Danger starts to present itself. What we must realize as event producers and goers is the operation of an inflatable device presents challenges that meet or exceed that of some fixed-site amusement rides.
Case in point, inflatable devices are considered a form of interactive play equipment. These devices are highly participative in nature due to the requirements of the patron to interact with the environment to initiate a desired outcome. Most fixed-site amusement rides only require that the patron sit-down and be strapped-in for the ride. As a result, inflatable devices provide a unique and real opportunity for injury. Event producers must be diligent and should understand that there are inherent risks associated with the use of inflatable devices.
Event producers should investigate inflatable event rental companies prior to utilizing their services. Request that they provide policies, procedures, insurance documents, and training manuals. Additionally, you should ensure that they comply with ASTM F-24 on amusement rides and devices. It is also important to recognize that certain inflatable devices are more prone to incidents than others. The key is to DO YOUR HOMEWORK — please understand the basics.
MINIMUM SAFETY REQUIREMENTS
- Structure must be properly erected, operated and maintained during its use
- Fall zones must be correctly padded
- Manufacturer’s recommendations, operating instructions, safety inspections and maintenance procedures must be followed
- The device must be supervised and monitored at all times by properly trained personnel that understand and enforce the required safe practices for the unit
- Applicable laws, standards and industry safe practices must be followed