Thursday, December 13, 2018

Bounce House Safety

I'm often asked if bounce houses are safe. Short answer is absolutely, as long as you follow a few guidelines. I have read many articles and seen several news reports showing the videos of a bounce house or slide blowing away in heavy winds, we've all seen them. There are also some pretty alarming statistics being thrown around showing that injuries have been rising at an exponential rate over the last 10-15 years. While this is all true, we need to look at the entire picture to completely understand why the injury rates have increased like they have.

First of all, Inflatables were not as available as they are now 10-15 years ago. Over the last 15 years, the number of companies that supply these products has grown to the point where you can spend an entire day shopping different companies trying to find the biggest bouncy for the cheapest price. So as the availability and increase of use have gone up, so has the injury rates.

Shopping for the cheapest product is usually a great practice when you are comparing identical items. For example, If you were looking to buy a bottle of perfume and wanted to find a great deal, It's very easy to find the best deal on a specific brand in a sealed box. But when searching for an inflatable its not that easy, its much like shopping for a great deal on a mattress. Its almost impossible to find an exact match from one retailer to the next.

There are many things to consider when searching for an inflatable and ensuring the safety of all the users should be the first concern. Using a company that is cutting costs can increase the likelihood of an injury. Here are a few things to consider in your search:
  • How old are the units the company is offering? Inflatable manufacturing companies continually improve the safety features of their inflatables. A bounce house that's 10-15 years old, is probably not as safe as one that's only 2 years old. There have been many improvements to the anchoring systems, and to the entrances protecting the users from accidentally falling out of the inflatable through the entrance door. On the other hand, that's not to say an older unit is not safe if its been properly maintained. Older units can also be updated with more current safety features. So if you find a company that is cutting corners in any of the other areas listed below, you can rest assured they are also skimping in this area.     
  • Are the bounce houses inspected annually by a licensed inspector? Many states require all inflatable rides to be inspected on an annual basis. In Texas, this is a requirement and you can and should ask to see a copy of the inspection certificate from the business your'e considering to rent from. Each unit will have its serial number on the inspection certificate and its very easy to match it up to the inflatable you're renting. 
  • Is the company fully insured? Again, it's a state requirement to have liability insurance. Ask to see a copy of the insurance certificate prior to renting from any company. 
  • Are the inflatables fully cleaned and inspected between each use? Inflatables are used very hard. The kids bounce off the sides and put stress on the seams every time they are used. Therefore, all units should be inspected and cleaned between each use to ensure they remain safe to use for the next customer. A ripped or weak seam could be a safety hazard if left in disrepair. 
  • How does the company secure the inflatable? It's very important an inflatable is fully secured prior to use. The best method to secure an inflatable is stakes. Stakes should be installed at every tether point and should be at least 18" long Sand bags, water bags, or water tanks are other options and should only be used as the last option. 
  • Does the company go over all the safety guidelines with you after the product is installed? Ask for a copy of the safety guidelines prior to committing to the company. And make sure you completely understand all the safety rules before they leave.  
  • Are the installers adequately trained? While not required, there are certification program companies they can use to ensure their installers are fully trained to install all types of inflatables. Look for the SIOTO badge on their site and verify their training is up to date by looking for them here. Companies that take this extra step will be listed here showing their certification level.
Companies that do not follow these guidelines could be supplying inferior and unsafe products which could increase your chance of injury. Companies that are uninsured and not getting yearly inspections are cutting costs and operating illegally and should never be used just to save a few bucks. If one of your guests were injured while using an uninsured product you arranged rental of, you may also become liable for any medical costs. It's actually very easy to verify the company your considering is legit. Just ask for the documents listed above.

Once you have made your decision and the inflatable has been delivered and installed it is very important to follow the safety guidelines the installer went over with you. One of the most important things to remember is to not view the inflatable as a baby sitter. You should never leave a group of children unattended because that is typically when an injury will happen. I have seen it time and time again where a child will take a flying leap from the top of a slide and land at the base. An Inflatable to a child must look like a huge pillow but they are actually quite firm. Taking a flying leap and falling several feet can hurt anyone and should never be allowed. 

A few other things to consider are the weight and rider limits for the inflatable you have. Each inflatable is different and you need to know the limits of your inflatable. These limits along with general safety guidelines are typically displayed on the side of all inflatables. So know the limits well. Its also important to know the weather limitations. Inflatables should never be used in heavy winds or rain. When wind gusts reach 15-20 miles per hour, with 25 mph being the absolute limit, the unit should be shut down and not used. And those numbers are under the assumption the inflatable has been properly secured. If the inflatable has been installed on asphalt using sand bags, 20 mph gusts would be your absolute limit. 

So do your research and only do business with a company that is following the rules. Companies that are not cutting corners have the customers best interests in mind. They are committed to providing a safe, clean, and fun experience for you, and your children. They are not in it just to make as much as they can because doing things the right way, can cost a lot of money. Which is why a company that follows the rules may charge a few extra bucks for that inflatable. 

Jason Barney 
(888) 584-6424 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Choosing a Legitimate Party Rental Company

Lots of people have been advertising party rental on Facebook and Craigslist for discounted rates. While some of these posting are legit, many are not. Here are a few things you should always ask for and why before deciding on a company to partner with for your child’s party.

1.       Ask for proof of insurance. Not only does the state require a minimum of 2 million dollar general liability insurance policy for renting inflatables. Just the fact that a company has taken the steps to acquire business insurance proves several things about the company.

·         They are a legitimate company. Every week, we have several people call us frantic because the person they decided to use either cancelled on them or didn’t even show up last minute. While we try to help everyone that calls us, last minute reservations can be difficult to fit in our busy schedule. This holds true for most legitimate party rental companies. So scheduling with someone last minute may be difficult to find if the one you used turns out to be unreliable.

·         They have your best interests in mind, it’s not always just about the $$$. It is very expensive to have insurance in this industry. Companies that pay these high premiums are doing it to protect themselves, their customers, and also comply with all the states requirements. Companies that do not, it’s always about the money. They usually will not have a web site or show an address. If they get any bad reviews they can just start a new Facebook page and continue without any problems. You will never see them again.  

2.       Ask to see the inspection certificate for the inflatable you’re interested in. The state also requires inflatables to be inspected annually. A licensed inspector will inspect each inflatable for any unsafe conditions. If it passes, the inspection report is sent to the insurance company to verify that specific inflatable is on the company’s policy. Once verified, the inspection report is then sent to the state where an inspection certificate is issued and mailed to the company for their records. This process is expensive and time consuming but it ensures the company is renting out safe equipment.

3.       Ask them if they have a website. What is their mailing address or business name? People with just a Facebook page and phone number can easily disappear if things go bad. They are renting this equipment illegally and can be caught and shut down by the state any time. Or if they receive a bad review they just move on to another page.
Just asking for those items before you decide on who to use can save your party from disaster. While we all love to save money, lots of times that savings can come at a cost. And the savings really isn’t that much of you check your options.

Would you leave your child at a day care that is uninsured to save a few bucks? Do you feel comfortable trusting some one that will not advertise or give you their address, or only give a cell number which can easily be changed. Remember, you are paying these people and inviting them to your house which are operating illegally. Do you really trust these people around your family? Be safe, and be smart when you hire someone to come to your home. Hire someone you can easily find if something were to go wrong. Hire a company that properly screens and trains their employees.

We hope you find this information helpful. And above all, we hope you have a smooth and stress free event!