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Makrais explains his state's mandates for a certified inflatable operator

By Connie Lannan

January 3, 2024

Below is what John D. Makrias Jr., operations manager at A & R Rental Center, York, Pa., is mandated by his state to do as a certified inflatable operator.

“We have to register the bounce house with the state. Anytime there is a public event — anywhere a child could walk off the street and be part of the bounce house — we have to report that those bounce houses are happening and have to file the inspection following up on that. Backyard house parties do not need to be reported to the state. They want us to make sure we are doing a safety check monthly on the bounce house and reporting that generally to them. We also have to have a sign on site, which we send out with the instruction booklet, that this ride has been inspected as required by the Pennsylvania Amusement Act,” he says.

Photo courtesy of Just in Case Party Rentals

Makrias also has his team put a tarp underneath the bounce house. “If a bounce house does not have a landing pad outside the entrance, we put gym mats around it. In a public place we have to put out the landing pad for extra safety. We also have a way to block off the blower area (for public places),” he says.

As far as instructions to his customers, Makrias provides the following list that customers need to read, initial each line, date and then get it signed at the bottom by his staff.

  • The bounce house is supervised at all times by an adult who is trained.
  • The operators and attendees must be aware of the rules that are posted outside the entrance of the bounce house.
  • The bounce house has to be securely anchored at all times. “We explain to them that if it is not, there is a risk that the bounce house might take off,” Makrias says.
  • The inflatables should be done in an orderly manner. “We ask that every rider be of the same age range, height, weight and group. You don’t want children with adults, etc.,” he says.
  • “We don’t recommend anyone with a mental or physical impairment or anyone the age of 3 or younger because they can’t have that supervision with them,” he says.
  • No shoes, eyeglasses, jewelry or sharp objects.
  • No somersaults, flips or diving in the inflatable.
  • No food, drinks, gum, pets or silly string are allowed in or on the ride. (Silly string melts the material.)
  • Do not jump off the ride.
  • “We recommend a whistle or signaling device to communicate when different groups are entering the ride so you don’t have to shout,” he says.
  • “We say to stay away from the blower at all times. If it is detached, unplugged or not pulling into the bounce house, it can deflate in about 5 minutes, which can scare the kids,” he adds.
  • They are not allowed to use the inflatable if it starts to rain or the wind exceeds 15 mph. “We explain that if the tops of the trees are constantly swaying, it is a good indication that you have reached that wind speed and you have to shut it down until it has passed,” he says.
  • If they have rented a slide, they have to go down feet first, no more than two riders at a time, one at the top and one going down.
  • No climbing the wrong way on the slide and no jumping off the sliding area.
  • In regard to the blower, when setting up the inflatable, unroll it, attach the blower to the inflation tube, tie it off, then blow it up and stake it so it is held in the right tension for the inflated position. “Our customers have to call 811 (the national number to help locate utility lines, etc.) before digging or staking,” he says.
  • Emergency procedures: If there is a weather alert, power failure or medical emergency, they need to exit everyone in an orderly fashion, turn off and unplug the blower, keep everyone away from the bounce house and, if necessary, call emergency responders.

“All of our instructions are in addition to our rental contract. They consist of an entire page just for the bounce houses,” Makrias says.