Ride on with caution

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | C&G Newspapers | Published July 1, 2015

 Two-year-old Sebastian King, of St. Clair Shores, jumps in the bounce house at the annual Nine-Mack Merchants Association’s June Fest in St. Clair Shores on June 6.

Two-year-old Sebastian King, of St. Clair Shores, jumps in the bounce house at the annual Nine-Mack Merchants Association’s June Fest in St. Clair Shores on June 6.

File photo by Roy Feldman


METRO DETROIT — Whether people are renting inflatable bouncers for parties or are among the more than 40 million carnival and amusement park-goers, real dangers are mixed in with the fun.  

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs inspects and registers amusement and carnival rides for safety. Within the state, LARA’s Corporations, Securities and Commercial Licensing Bureau licenses 890 amusement rides, which includes water slides and go-karts, according to a press release. Though amusement rides are inspected annually by LARA, all operators are required by the state to inspect the rides daily. 

However, LARA does not regulate inflatable bounce houses, bungee jumps or climbing walls, all of which homeowners, businesses and organizations can rent for gatherings.

According to the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, inflatable bouncers — like bounce houses and moonwalks — have become popular attractions for kids’ parties and carnivals, but they can also cause injuries, such as broken bones and concussions.

In the last 20 years, the number of inflatable bouncer-related injuries that have required emergency treatment in the United States has increased drastically, accounting for more than 30 children a day, or about one child every 45 minutes, according to the Child Injury Prevention Alliance. From 1995-2010, a majority of the emergency room injuries reported were broken bones, or bumps and bruises; however, 4,506 people had concussions and closed head injuries, according to the alliance.

Jennifer Tucker, executive director of the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission, said people should find reputable companies and follow the manufacturer’s specifications for weight and size if they want to use inflatable bouncers. The commission uses inflatable bouncers at a variety of events, including the Fall Fest. When renting a bouncer, Tucker said, people should also make sure the company has insurance and get a copy of the insurance.

“Say the wind is too strong and (the company) puts (the bouncer) up anyway, and it ends up in your neighbor’s pool. You’re going to want to have some recourse,” Tucker said.

Prior to staking the bouncer into the ground, Tucker said, make sure there are no utilities in the way.

“If you puncture your neighbor’s gas line, they probably won’t appreciate it,” Tucker said.

Adults should be supervising the bouncer when it is in use and following the limit as to how many people — along with height and weight limits — can be in the bouncer at a time.

Children and parents also need to take precautions when on amusement park or carnival rides. Last year, eight injuries were reported for carnival and amusement rides, and over a 12-year period, approximately 350 ride injuries were reported. Eighty percent of those injuries were caused by the rider’s actions, and 20 percent were caused by ride operators, equipment failures or a combination of both, according to a press release. Nearly one-third of all ride accidents involve children 7-12 years old.

“Carnival rides in Michigan are held to the highest safety standards to keep riders safe,” LARA Chief Deputy Director Shelly Edgerton said in a press release. “We ask parents and riders to do their part by following ride rules and restrictions, and use all the safety equipment provided, because even one injury is one too many.”

LARA recommends the following safety tips for amusement and carnival rides:

• Know the rules to follow and listen to verbal or recorded instructions.

• Follow the age, height and weight restrictions, and know the safest riding position for kids.

• Never place a child on someone’s lap unless operators OK it.

• Latch seat belts, shoulder harnesses and lap bars before rides begin. Hold on to handrails and use the grab bars.

• Keep hands, arms, legs and feet inside the ride at all times. Secure loose hair, clothing and belongings.

• Stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop and riders are instructed to exit.

• Those who are pregnant or who have heart conditions or back/neck injuries should follow the warning signs at parks.

• Report any unsafe behavior or conditions to a ride supervisor or manager.

• Report any injuries to a ride supervisor.