GREENSBORO, NC -- Bounce houses blowing away - common site these days. To kids safe in North Carolina, the state requires bounce houses to be inspected and certified each year. But head's up parents -- Two Wants to Know's Lechelle Yates found illegal and unsafe bounce houses operating here in the Triad.
Mike Shelton owns a bounce house business. He says safety's important – he has a check list of safety requirements he runs through when he sets up one of his inflatables. "You'll see one of the first things on our check list is that all four corners are staked down."
But he's missing THE safety feature required for all bounce houses in the state. On the back left corner we point out he's missing his state inspection and certification tags. Here's what should be there. The tags mean the inflatable passed a safety inspection.
Mike's Bounce House Rental's has been renting inflatables for almost three years. Illegally. Mike says he just didn't know until someone from the amusement park division at the Department of Labor called. "When I got that phone call, I was a little bit in shock. After you invest in an attorney and do everything you everything you think you can do when you start a business."
But what's more shocking - images of inflatables spinning like tops in Tuscon and a New York bounce house - swept up nearly two stories high.
Here in the Triad - you could easily stumble into an unsafe and illegal bounce house. We found Mike's by searching online. We compared business names with state records and came up with a list of other uncertified ones. Then we called them to see if they'd rent us a bounce house."My name Lechelle Yates. I'm with WFMY. So I could rent one for Saturday? So you could bring one on Friday or Saturday. We're doing a story about bounce houses. Did you know you need to be licensed and inspected? So she hung up on me.
L.O.L Party Rentals and Bounce Parties responded. They said they'd rent me bounce house and they said they just didn't know they needed to licensed and inspected.Casey Kirkman inspects bounces for the state. "We don't operate under 'The we don't know scenario.' They are breaking the law."
Craigslist and Facebook have a lot of small businesses and just single people renting bounce houses. Let's be clear. Their inflatables have to be inspected too. If they say they don't, they're lying. Casey says,"Lives are at stake."
Businesses can be slapped with fines if they keep renting bounces after the state tells them to get inspected. That's why Mike says only his kids will be bouncing in his houses...pending a visit from the state on Monday, July 28. "They just said your case is waiting to have an inspector look at it," says Mike.
So you're ready to rent a bounce house - what should you do: When you call, ask the business or person to send you their insurance information and a picture of their tags. As you can see, the tag is green and says NCDOL 2014.
Now if your at an event and you don't see the tag - what should you do? We actually came across one. The company uses stakes instead of sand bags to secure the bounce house to the ground. So sometimes the tags get hammered off when you pound the stakes into the ground. We called the Department of Labor and they checked - the bounce house had been inspected. That's what NCDOL wants you to do - call them. The number is (919) 807-2770.
Many states inspect bounce houses. And some states have online databases where you can check inspections yourself. The NC Department of Labor says it's moving in that direction.
Bounce house inspectors do say rough housing and high winds are two of the biggest dangers when it comes to bounce house operations. Here are safety guidelines to follow.