On a breezy weekend afternoon recently, an inflatable slide on Long Island went flying at a youth soccer tournament. Similar incidents the same afternoon left several people injured, one woman seriously.
It’s a growing problem, experts say: inflatable rides are apparently causing increased injuries in emergency rooms over the last decade. There were apparently almost 5,000 such injuries back in 2004. In the last two months alone, at least 10 such rides have collapsed, injuring 40 people, according to the Daily Item.
According to a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which monitors the safety of such rides, they are aware of the problem. She says every new ride is inspected by a safety board. They also have approximately 1,000 inspectors across the state.
Sometimes, rental companies that provide inflatable rides for parties or other events have in-house inspectors who assure that safety requirements are met. Still, that doesn’t mean accidents won’t happen. Most customers choose not to hire employees to oversee the operation of such rides. Sometimes, accidents occur when weight limits on the rides are ignored.
The spokesman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials says accidents involving inflatable rides happen all the time. He says they should be treated almost like carnival rides and should be closely monitored. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
What it all comes down to is whether the rides are being operated safely. As the spokesman tells the Daily Item, “It’s all about the operator. Just like anything, you need somebody competent doing it.”
Still, high winds and other factors can still cause accidents. When in doubt, it’s always best to choose safety first.