Does Danger Lurk on Inflatable Slides and Amusements?
Last week 19 students at a Georgia elementary school were injured when an inflatable slide collapsed. Two of the students were so seriously injured that they had to be airlifted and another five had to be transported by ambulance. Officials indicate that the cause of the collapse is still under investigation.
As an experienced amusement park accident attorney familiar with inflatable amusement attractions, I have witnessed a crisis in the amusement and inflatable industry evidenced by an increased number of ride and inflatable-related injuries and fatalities. I am certain that the students, teachers, and parents assumed that the inflatable slide provided a safe form of entertainment. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found just the opposite. The CPSC reported that inflatable amusement rides resulted in over 30,000 emergency room visits between 2003 and 2007.
Many of us and our children have been to many street fairs and birthday parties where inflatable rides are temporarily installed as an inexpensive means of child entertainment. What we never think about are the catastrophic injuries and fatalities that result when an inflatable ride fails due to faulty manufacture, design defect, improper installation, or an inattentive operator.
Last year there were tens of thousands of inflatable injury accidents with the U.S. CPSC reporting over 11,000 resulting alone from “bounce house” injuries.
The Recent Georgia Accident Involving 19 Students Illustrates the Dangers of Inflatable Amusements
Many inflatables are inexpensively manufactured in China and other foreign jurisdictions with no regulation exercised by manufacturers, owners, or operators of the inflatable amusement. Many times they are operated without following proper standards or guidelines. Often inflatables are designed by individuals or companies who have inadequate engineering experience and background and never properly test the devices.
Although inflatable industry advisory organizations do in fact exist, more and more rental businesses have emerged being operated without proper safety and usage instruction. There are approximately 300,000 inflatable devices in the United States that are used as amusement attractions and most of the devices are manufactured without regard to U.S. safety standards from ASTM International formerly known as The American Society for Testing Materials. This is a highly unregulated and uncontrolled environment and we believe that the industry is riddled with hidden dangers.
The rental industry for inflatables exceeds over sixty million dollars annually and it is estimated that tens of millions of children and thrill seekers use these devices every year.
The inflatable amusement industry is in the business of making money and it is necessary that government regulators create and enforce strict and effective regulations concerning the manufacturing of inflatables as well as operating systems to protect the lives of innocent people simply wanting to be entertained. We continue to investigate inflatable accident claims and seek to create meaningful safety regulations to avoid injury to innocent thrill seekers.