The County of Volusia has decided to take no chances when it comes to child safety and banned inflatable devices from public county parks.
Florida does not have specific regulations pertaining to the inflatable rental business, including bounce houses, inflatable slides and obstacle courses.
Despite an increase in injuries, enforcement within the industry continues to be lax.
According to the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission, “There were an estimated 113,272 injuries and 12 deaths associated with inflatable amusements in a 10-year span from 2003-2013.”
Most people have seen or heard about the dark side of bouncy houses. The countless horror stories of injuries and wind gusts that have swept bounce houses away with children still inside have not deterred people from renting them.
According to the CPSC.gov website, the number of injuries has exponentially grown from 5,311 in 2003 to an alarming 17,377 in 2013.
Despite their rising popularity, according to Pewtrusts.org, “Only about half of states have regulations governing permits, inspections and insurance.”
The states that have jurisdiction, require inflatables to go through an inspection, much like other public amusement rides. In addition, many of the state’s municipalities and counties enact their own specific safety inspection programs.
Improved enforcement of laws does not necessarily equate to a perfect solution for the safety issues that trouble this widely unregulated industry.
As it turns out, more government oversight may not be the answer after all. According to The Department of Labor in Arkansas, “Most injuries occur because operators are careless during setup, children aren’t supervised and guidelines aren’t followed. But state laws focus on insurance and annual inspections – not on training for operators or rules on supervision.”
Florida, however, does not have any of those laws. Inflatable companies do not require permits or safety inspections prior to setup. The devices are simply dropped off, set up and left in the hands of parents to make sure children are safe.
In 2018, the American Society for Testing and Materials website (ASTM.org) updated the standard for three “key risk” areas on inflatable amusements. These include the following:
•New design requirements for the anchors that ground the inflatables
•Installing ‘impact attenuation materials’ on the inflatables entrances and exits to mitigate risks with falls
•Emphasis on supervision by trained attendants
So, what is the solution to preventing thousands of more injuries and possible deaths on a device that is meant to bring happiness?
Consumers in all states, regulated or not, must take matters into their own hands and do their homework. Check out online reviews, ask friends and family about their experiences, be cautious of weather conditions and most importantly have adult supervision over the children at all times.