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Inspections.

We all do it on one occasion or another.  We sit there, staring at something and then say to ourselves, "I never noticed that before".  Something in your house, on your car, in the yard, or wherever.  Its not what you want to tell yourself when setting up a unit at a customers location.  These are NOT set-up instructions.

Introduction.

Inspections of your units are critical to the safe operation of your inflatable and should be conducted each and every time you set up a unit for customer use.  A basic inspection at this point can prevent a possible injury or upset customer due to equipment failure.  A few guidelines for inspections are as follows.  We label them as a primary and advanced inspection.

If you do not have equipment logs, we suggest using one for a variety of reasons.  They allow you to track cleanings and repairs which may help for resale, allows your insurance company or state inspection agency to check for consistency in your operation and shows you take your business seriously.  It may help in the unfortunate situation of litigation should you be taken to court for negligence, equipment failure, etc..

Primary Inspection.

The primary inspection should be conducted prior to each use.  Its a good idea to conduct one when picking up your unit and/or cleaning it after each use as well.  This gives you the chance to check for damage that may have occurred during its use.  Checking before you allow its use serves a dual purpose as well, as it allows you to check for damage that may have occurred during transport and storage. 

For you primary inspection start when you unroll your unit and check the bottom for large rips, holes, or foreign objects such as twigs or stones and other material that may become lodged in the vinyl and pose a bigger threat later on. 

Make sure each anchor point is snug, check again for frayed straps, missing D rings or O rings if equipped, and make sure it is securely attached to the unit. 

Ensure the blower tubes are in good repair as well, with all portions of the retaining strap functioning as they should be.  Buckles and clinch straps will occasionally fail from time to time. 

Next check all surfaces of the mattress for debris, rips, holes and seams that may be stressed and pay close attention to the areas where the support columns join the mattress and roof, as well as the safety ramp entrance.  Broken threads or separating seams may indicate a larger problem inside the unit itself and indicate eventual failure.

The netting and wall areas should all be intact along with any roof cover if your unit is equipped with either removable or permanent roofs.  Fully inflate the unit and test it to acknowledge it is working correctly and holding air.  Listen for abnormally loud rushes of air or hissing which may indicate a hole, tear or seam failure. 

That's it for a primary inspection.  Its a good idea to log each inspection on a equipment log for that particular unit.  Logs are available for download on the moonwalk forum site.

Advanced/Thorough Inspection.

Now the next inspection is an advanced or thorough inspection which we recommend be conducted at least once a month, or more if a unit is heavily used through-out the week.  For indoor centers its a good idea to conduct an advanced or thorough inspection each week.  Again, key is documentation, make sure you log your cleanings and inspections. 

The first step is unrolling the unit and examining the bottom very closely for any and all small holes, tears, or foreign matter lodged in the vinyl.  If its small enough for you to repair, do so, if not, contact a qualified repair facility to have it done. 

Check each and every seam on the bottom and sides of the mattress.  Any broken or stressed threads, any separation of the seams should be noted and repaired by a qualified company before use. 

Check each anchor point thoroughly.  Make sure the straps or webbing are fully intact and do not show any signs of thread breaks, fraying, missing or damaged D rings or O rings if equipped, and most importantly that the area to which they attach to the inflatable is secure and snug without any damage at all. 

Anchor you unit accordingly and then inflate the unit.  Deflate the unit and pull the edges out so the roof lays flat on top of the unit.  Inspect every inch, and pay careful attention to where the roof meets the support columns and cross tubes.  Make sure the emergency exits function and the Velcro is in good repair. 

Inflate the unit and check all of the sides.  Make sure that all of the netting is intact and is properly secured to the walls on all 4 sides.  Over and over again you'll hear us stress the point of checking the seams and threads.  Pull on the netting in each direction to make sure it does not pull away from the walls. 

Check the walls where they meet the mattress and check the support columns at these points as well.  Children tend to like to pull on the walls and columns so they receive more stress than normal.  Plus, these are major seams which are detrimental to the operation of the unit. If your unit is equipped with deflation ports or zippers, check the integrity of the Velcro flaps and zippers to ensure proper function. 

Most units have two blower tubes.  These tubes take a lot of abuse bouncing around, especially with a blower attached.  The biggest stress point for them is where they connect to the base, and then the cinch straps and buckle mechanisms.  The straps and buckles should remain tight at all times.  If they continually slip or loosen they should be replaced.  Some tubes have a flap inside the units which prevents rapid deflation should the blower fail.  Check this flap for rips or thread damage where it attaches.

Thoroughly inspect the safety ramp and entrance.  Not all units have safety ramps, although more and more manufacturers are trending towards using them on all units.  Everyone who enters and exits the unit must use this area so it takes more than its fair share of abuse.  Double check all the seams on these steps, and the stress points and webbing around the entrance on the wall. 

Inside the jump area check all seams while paying close attention to the stress points along the walls and where the support columns meet the floor area.  If you notice a seam that appears to bubble up more than normal, its a good indication you may have a baffle that is failing inside the base of unit.  Check all overhead tubes and roof material from the inside. 

If your unit comes equipped with large enough zipper ports, you may consider entering the unit for inspection.  This is a two person task and requires some simple safety precautions.  Make sure you leave the zipper open and the unit inflated.  A cell phone or portable radios for communication is strongly advised.  A utility knife, folding knife, or scissors in case case you need to make an emergency exit and cut the material.  A good working flashlight and a good dry towel in case you run across moisture. 

If you do not feel comfortable in tight spaces, do not enter.  After entering the unit make sure you are careful as you move about so as not to tear any of the interior components.  The inside is made up of baffles which connect to various portions of the unit which allows the unit to maintain its shape.  Otherwise it would just expand like a big balloon.  If you can't fully enter the unit, check out as many areas as you can possibly see by looking inside. 

While you are inside, check as many of these baffles as you possible can.  Check each connection point and all stitching.  When a mattress fails and no exterior damage is visible, this is where you'll most likely find the cause.  Mop up any moisture you encounter and you may even want to use a cleaner inside.  Do not leave anything inside this unit.  This includes moth balls, deodorant cakes, dryer sheets, etc..  If you use a good citrus based cleaner you'll leave a pleasant aroma that will filter through the unit. Do not seal it up until the interior is dry.

Double check to make sure everything is put away, nothing was left inside the interior of the mattress, or the jump area, and deflate and store your unit as desired.  Keep in mind the old saying "a stitch in time saves nine".  More likely will save you hundreds if not the cost of a new unit, and we all want to make sure out units stay in operation as often and as long as possible.

Slides Inspection.

Slides and interactives while they may have some common areas to check such as the interiors, and the seam points, they also have some very different areas which also need to be checked.  With more interactivity between these types of units and the participants it is important to be as thorough as possible. 

When checking slides, three major points of inspection exist.  The stairs/steps, the actual slide surface portion, and the end wall or stop.   Make sure you check the rest however.

When checking the stairs, make sure all webbing used as a hand rail or hand holds is solid, fully connected to the slide, is not fraying and the threads are not separating.  The steps should be fully attached to the surface of the slide and should not be worn.  Some steps have small hard pieces of foam or other materials sewn into them for rigidity.  These should not be exposed.  Some manufacturers make the steps that remove and in this case you will want to make sure the Velcro that secures them is in good condition.  Remove them and check the underside for wear and damage. 

The slide portion is usually a blanket that applies with Velcro as well.  Remove the slide, checking the Velcro and both the top and bottom surfaces of the slide.  If the slippery material shows signs of cracking, peeling or other damage you will need to replace it.  To rejuvenate the sliding area multiple products are used.  WD-40, spray on Turtle Wax, Armor All, and more.  Check with your manufacturer and use what they suggest. 

The back stop, end wall, or whatever you want to call it is the third portion that takes heavy use.  The seam that attaches it the base is the most important.  You should check this continually.  Without an adequate stop, participants are subject to falling off and injuring themselves.  The back wall should always stand up tall, fully inflated at all times.

Interactives Inspection.

Interactives including bungee runs, jousts, bouncy boxing, twisters, obstacle courses and similar items need to be checked at least as often, if not more, than the rest of your equipment due to the high level of contact between people and equipment.  It seems interactives are the center of the insurance debate as more and more companies drop them from their coverage lines citing them and the accidents that occur on them as the reason rates continue to climb.. 

With all due respect, the components of interactives are basically similar to those of bounces and slides with the exception of the accessories and a few other components that make them unique depending on the particular game in question.  A lot of interactives share very similar components with each other. 

Obstacle courses have more seams to worry about and each individual obstacle should be thoroughly examined where it meets the base of the unit.  The insides of tunnels, tubes and crawl through areas should be checked for fraying or rips and tears, and any hazard that may "catch" on the participant.  Climb and slide components should be inspected as you would inspect any other slide, however you should pay attention to any special climbing assists like straps and ropes. 

Bungee runs are a very popular favorite although the potential for serious injury persists.  The stress points where the bungee connects to the back wall of the unit is very critical.  If this gives way with pressure being asserted on it the participant may fall off the unit forcibly.  The bungee cord harness should remain in good repair with all closures and buckles in working condition.  The bungee cord itself loses viability over time and check for breaking strands, fraying ends, dry rotting of the rubber, and replace when any signs of wear and tear exceed normal limits.  Lastly, the running surface needs to be clean and durable so participants do not easily slip.  Games like bungee basketball, etc., should follow these same guidelines. 

For bouncy boxing the two most important factors are the head gear and the boxing gloves.  Head gear is for the safety of the participant and should be issued with each rental.  The head gear should not have any tears in the fabric, the straps and buckles should all work and should not be torn or frayed in any manner, and the protective foam still needs to be plush and able to cushion the blows.  Foam deteriorates over time and its intended use will degrade as it does.  The gloves should have no sharp seams or buckles, the padding soft and the outer material in good shape as well. 

The same rules for the head gear in jousting should be followed like those of boxing.  The pedestals that participants stand on should not wobble or cave in at all and should provide a good solid standing base.  The poles should be fully wrapped on the ends with no tears or breaking seams, and fully foal covered.  The pole itself should not be warped, cracked, or splintering. 

Most interactive's contain the majority of these components although there will be occasional differences follow these guidelines and always refer to your manufacturers provided manual.

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