Kids love to play and they really love to bounce. It’s no wonder that inflatable play structures (aka bounce houses) and similar attractions pop up during camp and special events. Whether the design is a slide, an enclosed bouncer, or a climber, several things should be considered to ensure that the kids’ fun time is also safe.
The attraction is generally rented from a vendor who may supply it with or without set-up and oversight. Selecting the most appropriate vendor should ask the following:
Whether you or the vendor will operate the attraction, consider the unit and where it will be placed; verify that the following are all true before use:
Once activities have begun, no matter who operates the attraction; see that the following are diligently enforced:
Redwoods’ customers have only had about 20 incidents from the use of inflatable play structures over the last several years, mostly minor. The inflatable play structure industry, however, has seen at least seven deaths from the use of these attractions, five involving people from ages 15-24. The structures have a history of collapsing and being tossed about by wind – all too frequently with tragic results (three instances with 12 injured, 10 with five or more hurt). Please follow this link for details of approximately 30 significant incidents encompassing about 140 injuries.
Electing to own your own unit instead of renting one for special events brings additional considerations, besides placing all the burden of safety on you. You will have to contend with cleanliness and sanitation, deflation and storage, inspection and inflation, etc. You may be tempted to rent an owned unit to others – that choice greatly increases both the opportunity for a significant event (which will involve you as the owner) and possibility that the unit will be damaged.
Only you can decide if use or ownership of an inflatable play structure is wise for your camp. The very real possibility of serious injury or death should be weighed against the fun and excitement that may be generated. The decision should be considered by upper management and possibly governing boards, not just programming staff.
Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.