Safety Tips to Avoid Inflatable Mishaps and Accidents

July 27, 2011

Inflatables, like moonwalks, bounce houses and jumpers, can be fun—and safe—if they’re set up properly.

Fairfax County’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services inspects inflatables that are set up at fairs, carnivals and amusement parks. These inspections help prevent inflatable mishaps and accidents, including at least 10 accidents this summer across the country.

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Safety Tips

However, the county doesn’t check inflatables at private events, like a backyard children’s party. Here are safety tips from the county inspectors that you can use.

  • Make sure the inflatable is properly anchored and set up on level ground.
    • If stakes are used, they should be between 30 to 42 inches long, and 75 percent of the stake should be driven into the ground.
    • If sandbags are used, there should be one bag per tether, and the bags should weigh 75 pounds for standard bounces and up to 500 pounds for slides.
  • Set up the inflatable far away from any overhead power, telephone or cable lines.
  • Don’t set up the inflatable near trees or tree branches. They can poke holes in the inflatable, causing it to lose air quickly.
  • Be sure the inflatable is plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI outlet. GFCIs can help prevent electric shocks.
  • If a generator is being used, don’t place it near the blower that pumps air into the inflatable. Otherwise, the blower will pump carbon monoxide from the generator into the inflatable.
  • Only allow children of the same size and height inside the inflatable at the same time, and do not allow too many children inside at once. This will prevent larger children from injuring smaller ones.

Other things to consider:

  • Is the equipment in good shape? Check to make sure the fabric or netting doesn't have any holes, and look to see if the stitching is coming loose. Make sure the tethers used to anchor the inflatable are in good condition.
  • Does the company have insurance? By state law, companies must have at least $1 million in liability insurance.
  • Who's setting up and operating the inflatable? If it's you, make sure the rental company gives you clear instructions about how the inflatable should be staked or anchored to the ground; how many children are allowed inside at one time; and what are the wind or weather conditions when you shouldn't use the inflatable. If the company provides operators, make sure their staff are alert and supervising the inflatable's use.


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Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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