Will the Bounce House Blow Away?
I've had a couple customers recently ask me that question - it's a valid question/concern - it's been highlighted by media (i.e. like the one above) raising fears about bounce house safety, but when following simple safety rules the risk of your bounce house flying away is almost non-existent.
Let’s look at the case above for a minute (mind you this is hindsight 20-20 review of the incident): "Rev. Ron Perkins said he watched a rider on a personal watercraft running in and out of a waterspout twirling offshore. “We weren't all that concerned," said Perkins"... so 1) There was a storm spawning a water spout, people saw it in the water and no safety precautions were taken despite its proximity to the beach. 2) Bounce houses are supposed to have an adult supervising their use, where was the attendant/adult when this was happening? 3) Attendant aside, there were several people nearby (I'm assuming the parents should be nearby as well) - it seems not one person tried to get the kids out, there are people standing around taking video of this water spout just watching it go by! This was preventable on so many levels...
If these 3 simple rules are followed your bounce house won't be going anywhere:
1) Stake the unit down properly, if it's a residential model that comes with those el cheapo small plastic stakes (i.e. like a Little Tikes models) replace them with commercial grade ones (~18 inches long with a J hook) for added piece of mind (pictured below), pound them all the way in the ground and at an angle -> \ (makes it harder to come out).
2) NEVER use a bounce house in windy conditions (20+MPH for our units), if the weather forecast says there will be 30MPH wind guests that day it may not be a great idea to set a bounce house up. If the trees are swaying most likely winds are either too high or borderline at best. Keep an eye on the weather in general - use in rain and lightning impose a shock risk and can damage the blower.
3) Lastly, keep an eye on the bounce house, if a tether gets free from a stake or the stake starts pulling up, re-secure it ASAP, if wind is causing the bounce house to lift (or attempt to) it's too windy turn it off!
All the horrifying bounce house stories stem back to weather conditions, be vigilant, don't keep using a bounce house if a large front is rolling in, there are risks of tornados, or a potential for strong wind gusts - by all means if you SEE a tornado or waterspout nearby get everyone to safety, you never know which direction they may go! In the end operating safety lies on the renter/operator, if it's a nice clear day with a slight breeze, stake it down and you should have no worries, if you opt to rent a unit on a day where wind and/or storm risks are elevated (i.e. scattered storms) be vigilant, and if the forecast is almost certain to be bad we will cancel on you for liability reasons, the safety of ourselves and our bounce house. (No worries your deposit is refundable for cancellation due to weather issues.)
On a related note, unit design also affects how susceptible they are to wind - unit warnings on wind can very generally from 10-20mph. All ours are rated safe up to 20mph and with the exception of the 18' slide* all our bouncers have large netted sides which allows you to see in the unit and allows wind to flow through freely, while still keeping kids from falling out. Units that are very enclosed (i.e. large vinyl walls) have more surface area for the wind to blow against. Large slides are probably some of the most susceptible type of inflatables in windy conditions due to their large high side and back walls (think tall SUV in wind vs a compact car), however if properly anchored and those 3 rules above are followed everyone will have a fun and safe time. To help mitigate the wind risk our 18' slide* includes 6 tethers (3 on each side) attached to the top of the unit that get staked down by 2 stakes (1 on each side) to help stabilize and anchor it down to prevent swaying in addition to the 4 stakes at the bottom corners (like the other units) - it's still rated safe up to 20mph winds with the added tethers.
When doing outdoor activities always be weather aware.
*NOTE: We no longer have the 18' slide referenced in this article.
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