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Officials urge safety after bounce house accidents

More than 40 people have been injured on inflatables and bounce houses in the past couple of months. Find out how you and your kids can stay safe.

Posted Updated
Raleigh Wide Open 2007
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

I wanted to share some information I got last week from Neal O'Briant with the N.C. Department of Labor.

The email was prompted by a news story about a series of accidents involving bounce houses and inflatables around the country. In a recent accident, one women was seriously injured and another dozen people were hurt when winds sent three of the structures into the air.

Another 40 people have been injured in similar accidents in the last couple of months. According to the Associated Press story, the problem isn't with the rides themselves, but with the way they are supervised.

Click here to read the full story. The photo of one of these giant inflatables aloft is pretty incredible.
By law in North Carolina, all inflatables must be inspected by the Labor Department's certified ride inspectors once a year to operate. Businesses that operate inflatable rides must request an annual inspection by March 31. Inspectors spend most of April finishing the inspections, according to a labor department article.

Inspectors ensure that the material is flame retardant or resistant; look for wear and tear at entrances and exits; check the ground anchor points and tether lines; and inspect the blowers and generators. Fire extinguishers also must be available.

To make sure a ride has been inspected before your kids bounce, you can check for two tags that should be on the bounce house. One is a round metal tag that has a state registry number on it. The other is a yellow tag that will have "NCDOL 2011" printed on it. The tags always are on the rear-end facing the right-hand side of the ride near the tie down straps. The department changes the color of the tag each year. Last year's tags were red.

If you see an uninspected inflatable rides, you can call the Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau at 919-807-2770 to report it. Inspectors will need to know the city, the street address of the event, and company name, if known.

The labor department also passed on these safety rules for inflatables: 

  • Adult supervision is required at all times.
  • Follow the rules listed by the manufacturer on the side of the inflatable.
  • Do not use an inflatable device in the rain or if wind gusts are greater than 20 miles per hour.
  • Do not let larger kids on with smaller kids.
  • Do not hold hands or ride in another’s lap on slides.
  • Do not flip, push or roughhouse while on an inflatable device.
  • Do not use an inflatable device while wearing shoes, jewelry or any sharp object.
  • Do not allow kids to go behind the rides where generators and blowers are located.
  • If a ride begins to deflate, evacuate immediately. Rides deflate rapidly if power source is lost.

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