Inflatable Play Structure Safety Campaign By Happy Jump, Inc.
Happy Jump has been manufacturing all type of inflatable play and advertising structures for almost two decades with one main goal, to produce the safest and last longing inflatables. Back in 2001 Happy Jump worked directly with engineers from the state of New Jersey to come up with solution to increase the deflation time of Inflatable games in case of emergency evacuations, at that time the “Deflation Flap” was suggested by HJ and got approved by the state and soon adopted by other manufacturers. At the same time HJ suggested blower manufactures to add flap to their blowers for more help on that process and that became another standard that all blowers manufacturers are now following.
Sometime later HJ started to add safety nettings on top all of the slides to enforce riders to slide down in seated position and prevent participants from falling out, not to mention there was netting incorporated to inflatable slides prior by happy jump and others but the main purpose was to provide shade. Emergency exit on all enclosed inflatables was another feature brought to industry by Happy Jump and it’s been adopted by industry since.
By noticing so many inflatable rides designed without following suggested ASTM guidelines and some without knowledge of designing such structure entering to the market whether as simple as height of the side walls, slide slop, short landing area on slides, no proper anchoring points, no proper guidelines nor warning signs etc. causing so many accidents/injuries which at the end hurts the industry as whole.
I; Roubik Amirian president of Happy Jump Inc. felt necessary to do something about this issue so I decided to reach out to one of my old friends within the inflatable industry who recently became Chairman of ASTM international’s F24 standard F2374 which covers the design, manufacture, operation and maintenance of inflatable rids Mr. Michael Viechweg. I ask Michael to help me to start a campaign to inform and educate operators so they are more aware of what to look for at the time of purchasing an inflatable and also better and safer way of operating them, as expected he welcomed the idea with open arms by saying this will be great start to share all existing and future industry guidelines with all of you out there.
The first article is simply an introduction but in coming weeks we’ll cover all details and safety guidelines.
“A new day is arriving in this industry that will affect everyone. ASTM International is expanding to more nations and the process of improving this standard takes input from manufacturers, authorities, engineers, insurance representatives, and operators from around the world. Everyone was and is invited to help make this standard better. The most existing standard is 4 pages long with the present working future version standing at 39 pages so far. There is something in this new standard for everyone. For example, manufacturers now have a design standard to determine the number of players in or on an inflatable. Operators now have a minimum level of expectation of documentation owed to them when purchasing a new inflatable. Engineers have a guideline when calculating anchoring requirements. Authorities will now have a comprehensive standard that is easier to follow.
This process started over two years ago and the effort from those who have volunteered their time has been outstanding. We are trying to make this industry safer and everyone can play their part. Over the past few years there have been too many news reports of inflatables flying through the air or people injuring themselves on inflatables and this must stop. We know that most of these incidents are caused by poorly trained operators taking safety for granted. We also know that safety-minded, legitimate operators want to keep their insurance costs down and provide good service to their customers but are affected by those operators appearing in the news and harming the industry as a whole. Help us improve the safety of the industry by pushing for the adoption of this standard in your jurisdiction and push for enforcement. As more jurisdictions adopt this standard and apply enforcement the inflatable amusement industry will be safer. I’ll be giving another presentation at IAAPA in the fall on the new standard so if you are there please attend. You will see more articles from me in the future in this space.”
Michael Viechweg, P.Eng.
Anchoring Inflatable Games and Size of Stakes
A few days ago another terrible accident involving flying inflatables occurred in South Carolina. Five children were injured with two of them sustaining serious injuries. This is a tragedy that could have been worse but is one that we all must do our best to avoid.
From the reports it appears that the inflatables were anchored to the ground but clearly the anchoring was insufficient for the environment. The anchors may have been too small, not deep enough, or the ground may have been too soft. Over the past year I have noticed that most people severely underestimate effect of wind speed on an object.
The pressure of the wind is directly related to the square of the wind’s speed.
The formula is: pressure = ½ air density x Speed2
Here’s an example demonstrating the effect of a change in wind speed by 5 mph:
10 mph to 15 mph:
10 mph = 10 x 10 = 100
15 mph = 15 x 15 = 225
(225-100)/100 = 1.25 or a 125% increase in pressure caused by a 50% increase in speed!
15 mph is not a lot of wind. Mother Nature is serious. Three times this week I’ve had someone use the word “crazy” when they asked for anchoring recommendations. Good 1” stakes at least 18” submerged in stiff ground are your best tools for anchoring.
Members of ASTM International with inflatable manufacturer members like Happy Jump have been working closely to improve standards to reduce and, hopefully, eliminate these incidents. We need everyone in this industry involved to help. Be a part of increasing inflatable safety.
How can you say an inflatable is too soft or too firm?
It’s always nice to get something new while at the same time it’s sad to dispose of a device that has served you well. Over the lifetime of your inflatable its performance characteristics can change dramatically.
Water, sun, traffic, staff handling, dirt, pavement, tears, and more affect the life of any inflatable device. With all these elements over time inflatables become increasingly softer. Your manufacturer designs your inflatable to work with their recommended blower and the future ASTM standards will provide testing standards that will allow for testing consistency across all manufacturers to help determine what is too soft or too firm?
With your existing inflatables try to get some perspective by opening a new inflatable and see how it deflects with weight. The best way to do this would be to find the maximum allowable weight allowed for that inflatable then double that weight and place it on a disk 15” in diameter. Put that disk in the middle of the inflatable and measure the height of the disk above the floor. Then place that disk between 24” and 36” from the wall of the inflatable and measure the height above the floor again. Your test weight should not touch the ground at the bottom of the inflatable.
At the same time, if this weight does not cause a deflection then your inflatable is definitely too hard.
Use the performance of new inflatable as your guide. I also recommend that you make a video recording of your test and use it for future reference. This is only a guide but its important to keep your devices in good working order and to talk to your supplier if you have issues or repairs to be made.