With the recent notoriety of bounce house accidents this summer, finger pointing has been prevalent. Accusations are made that inflatable bounce houses are not staked properly, are not inspected or maintained, or that operators are not paying attention.
One of the most overlooked aspects of bounce house safety is rider responsibility and in the case of minors, the parental supervision.
As a purveyor of inflatable attractions at events ranging from backyard parties to school functions and company picnics, we see a range of parental responses. Some parents encourage their children to follow rules and actively monitor their play. Other parents use the inflatables as “baby-sitting devices” and pay little or no attention to little Johnny until he is injured.
Many injuries have a direct correlation to misbehavior by participants. These include: The kids who try to bounce their friend out of control or those who decide to run down a slide rather than sit and slide; The ones who strike their opponent in the face rather than body with Giant Boxing Globes or Jousting poles; Those who run instead of walk.
More important are the parents who complain about rules that dampen their child’s play such as height restrictions or mixing various ages on an attraction. I’ve seen parents tell children to ignore closed signs on inflatables and to jump on wherever they can enter. Other patrons enjoy trying to interrupt competitions by throwing items or jumping on inflatables.
It is very important that companies train their employees in the proper and safe operation of inflated attractions. Crowd control is a part of this. The job is made very difficult or even impossible by disrespectful children or pushy parents who don’t feel rules are important until someone is hurt.
For an idea of some safety guidelines presented by New York State, go to www.ridesafeny.org. The website contains safety tips for both children and their parents.