Are inflatables Safe? Yes. Are all inflatables safe? No-well at least in our opinion.
Inflatables are, in essence, sewn together fabric filled with air to create a sort of playground structure. Does this sound dangerous? No, absolutely not. But just like anything else, this seemingly safe amusement attraction can turn dangerous and even deadly. At ACP Entertainment, we carry a wide variety of inflatables including bounce houses, obstacle courses, combos, slides and interactive inflatables. All of our inflatables we consider to be safe if used properly. Every inflatable has rules that need to be followed. When rules are broken is when people start to get hurt. But what inflatables are considered unsafe?
*Before you read any further, please know that the items listed below that we consider dangerous is our opinion of over 10 years of being in the inflatable industry. If you disagree, that’s quite alright!*
At ACP Entertainment, we will not carry traditional bungee runs, sumo suits or bubble balls because we have seen first hand or have heard about too many injuries surrounding thee 3 attractions. We refer to these attractions as the “Main 3.” There are other attractions here or there that we have opted not to carry or discontinue from our roster for safety reasons, but the main 3 are what we’d like to draw your attention to. While fun and hilarious to watch, the main 3 are dangerous and in some cases have been deadly.
Bungee Runs: The point of a traditional bungee run is to run to the end of the 30 foot inflatable, while attached to a bungee cord, to see how far you can get until the strong bungee pulls you back. The danger in this attraction is within the bungee cord itself. The most dangerous scenario is when the rider gets to the end of the inflatable (while connected to the bungee cord) and then jumps instead of running backwards. When the rider jumps, the bungee cord reels the player in uncontrollably until the player hits the back wall of the inflatable. How the player lands is where the injury can come into play. In 2007, a boy in Denver was injured on a bungee run and later a “judge awarded nearly $6.9 million to the family of [the] teenager who suffered a permanent brain injury,” according to the Sokolove Law firm on April 18, 2011. The second most common cause for injury is from the bungee snapping due to a faulty bungee cord, old age or excessive extension of the cord. A snapping bungee cord will hit the player in the back and can also hit spectators.
Sumo Suits: Sumo Suits is an attraction in which players climb into either an inflatable or foam-filled suit that is made to resemble a sumo wrestler. The players will also put on a foam helmet that is sometimes made to look like a sumo wrestlers hair in a bun. Once the players are dressed, they step onto a thin foam mat that has a ring in the center. When instructed, the players run towards each other to tackle one other resulting in one or both of the players falling almost immediately. Commonly, the player still standing will then jump on the player that fell as a sign of victory. The suits are very restrictive in movement for the players and don’t allow them to move freely. Since they can’t move like they would without the suit, they often will lose control of their body and fall easily. When they do fall, if they hit their head it could cause temporary or serious damage damage to their skull or brain. In Colorado Springs, a participant fell while wearing a sumo suit and caused her to have permanent brain damage. A Denver jury awarded her $2 million for her injuries that she sustained while playing in the sumo suits.
Bubble Balls: Bubble balls are most commonly used for a game known as “bubble soccer.” The game of bubble soccer involves anywhere from 4-12 players wearing these bubble balls and running around on a field or course, like a regular game of soccer, with the intention to score goals with a soccer ball. Now of course part of the fun is hitting their opponents with the bubble balls almost always resulting in the player flying backwards 5-20 feet and/or falling. At a first look, it looks harmless, in fact it looks safe since the players have a near-fixed air bag around them to keep them safe. However, the danger is what’s outside of the bubble. The most common known injuries are broken feet, twisted ankles and broken legs. Also if the bubble balls do not have shoulder restraints, the players head could pop out of the top resulting in them potentially hitting their head on a hard surface which could cause serious damage to the players spine, skull and/or brain. In Missouri, a man severely injured his spinal cord while playing in a bubble ball and because of those injuries he is now paralyzed (quadriplegic). He was awarded nearly $45 million dollars in a lawsuit against the recreation company.
While it is our opinion that the 3 categories of inflatables are dangerous, there are definitely other individual inflatables or attractions that we will also not carry. Just like anything, the level of danger that an inflatable has (especially a new design of inflatable) is unknown until it’s been tested on the market. Once it’s been out there in the market and stories unfold, it is our duty to A) inform our customers of the dangers relating to specific attractions and B) not carry those attractions in our inventory.
We can’t stress the fact enough that these are our opinions based on our over 10 years of experience and staying informed about the accidents across the world pertaining to inflatable attractions. Reading all of this about these attractions may be a bummer to hear, especially since they all look so fun, but we all want everyone to not only have a good time but remain safe while playing. If you have questions regarding these or other attractions, please do not hesitate to call our office at 616-826-8220.
Bungee Run Lawsuit: Sokolove Law Firm: https://www.sokolovelawfirm.com/blog/boy-injured-in-bungee-run-gets-multimillion-award/
Sumo Suit Lawsuit: Dr. Shezad Malik Law Firm: https://www.dallasfortworthinjurylawyer.com/denver_jury_awards_millions_in/
Bubble Ball Lawsuit: Columbia Daily Tribune: https://www.columbiatribune.com/news/20170717/boone-county-man-wins-45-million-in-lawsuit