HUNTERSVILLE ­– Safety and cleanliness are the top priorities at Lake Norman Inflatables in Huntersville – especially at a time of the year when festivals and backyard birthday parties are frequent.

Commercial bounce house rental companies have strongly emphasized safety after a 10-by-10-foot bounce house in Albany, N.Y., flew 50 feet into the air, causing two boys to fall to the ground.

The N.C. Department of Labor oversees amusement devices and rides. Bounce house companies have to provide proof of insurance and fill out paperwork. Once the DOL verifies the documentation, the company can set up a time with a department-certified inspector who will inflate each unit, check for tears and holes, and look at knitting, leaks and cleanliness. 

Once the inflatable has been inspected, a tag will be issued for that inflatable along with a tag that includes the year of inspection. Each individual unit must be inspected annually.

In addition to following state rules, Lake Norman Inflatables has a particular inspection process and guidelines as to what renters should be aware of. 

Lake Norman Inflatables uses sandbags and stakes to hold down the bounce house, depending on the surface or topography. Orange cones are used to bring attention to the stakes, electrical cords or generator so no one trips and gets hurt.

“We put down more than the recommended weight to hold the bounce house in place,” said Bill Gombert, owner of BG Golf Inc., a partner of Lake Norman Inflatables.  

Lake Norman Inflatables provides a safety and cleanliness checklist that includes information about adult supervision, weather, age ranges and maximum capacity. The company also reviews that checklist with each customer after the set up of the unit to ensure they understand how to avoid potential hazards.

Lake Norman Inflatables asks renters to keep food, drink and candy away from the bounce house. The company uses a special, non-toxic cleaning product to keep the bounce houses clean before and after an event, especially with kids who might be sick or have dirty feet.

With severe weather and strong winds, Gombert says the unit should be deflated immediately.

But not all people rent through a commercial rental company. People who buy bounce houses from stores are asked to follow manufacturer guidelines because those kinds of bounce houses are not as heavy. 

“We want issues taken care of, but accidents do happen,” Gombert said. “Kids bump heads.”

Lake Norman Inflatables has donated an obstacle course bounce house to this year’s Hello Huntersville event and plans to donate an obstacle course at the Fourth of July event at Birkdale Village.  

The obstacle course is a combination of wall climbs and holes for children to enter through one side and exit out the other.

Regular bounce houses as opposed to obstacle courses, Gombert said, require constant monitoring of people coming in and out to make sure only a certain number of people are jumping at one time.