Inflatable Bounce Houses: Lack of oversight in NY

Getting Answers: Bounce House Safety

WHEATFIELD, N.Y.-- On Sunday afternoon, a number of people, mostly children, were injured in Wheatfield when a 60 by 30 foot bounce pad lifted up off the ground in high winds and moved 50 feet across the ground.

A press release from the Niagara County Sheriff's Office reported that the inflatable struck a 76 year-old woman and dragged her 20 feet.

Capt. Aaron Schultz tells Channel 2 the bounce pad was destroyed because parents slashed at it with sharp objects trying to bring it back down to the ground.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo recorded peak wind gusts at that time of day to be 50 miles per hour.

2 On Your Side reached out to owners of "The MAiZE" but they turned down an on camera interview. Despite everything that happened they say they did nothing wrong. And the Niagara County Sheriff's Office confirmed this.

"Could you imagine if that inflatable had started rolling and rolled onto Niagara Falls Boulevard? That could have become pretty bad," Bob Cliffe is the town supervisor for the town of Wheatfield.

When we asked him if there are any safety regulations governing the use of inflatables, he tells Channel 2 he was shocked to find there are none in place in Wheatfield, Niagara County, or the State of New York.

Cliffe tells Channel 2 he intends to do something about it, and that a good place to start might be requiring inflatable operators follow the manufacturers recommendations on high winds.

Michael Gersitz owns Party In Buffalo Bounce House Rentals. "Every inflatable is a little bit different, but most of the manufacturers don't recommend setting up past 15 or 20 mile an hour winds."

Cliffe says he wants to find out what other municipalities are doing first, before moving ahead with anything official in Wheatfield. When we asked Cliffe if he believes the state should step in, he said, "The state is an obvious place, because somebody's got to look at the injuries. Somebody's got to look at the injuries across the state and determine what caused those injuries and how can you stop that from happening."

States that do have safety rules in place often consider bounce houses and bounce pads to be amusements along the lines of carnival rides. Those inflatables are inspected by the state's Department of Labor (DOL).

2 On Your Side checked with the New York DOL and Cullen Burnell, Acting Communications Director, confirmed they do not regulate bounce house attractions.

Gersitz admits not having regulations can make his job easier. But when something goes wrong, he says it's bad for the industry, "New York there's not rules on getting units inspected before hand.  And the bounce house companies don't really have too much pressure from anybody else to make sure that everything is safe at all times."

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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