Archive for June, 2011

Let’s hope Sony’s Tablet is faster than their video

I love Rube Goldberg devices, and I’ve posted videos of some of them on this blog in the past. I came across this video on Gizmodo this morning, and they blasted it for being slow and boring. At first I disagreed because I thought the shadow portion was innovative and very cool. But I have to say that everything after that was painful. This is the 1st installment of 5 episodes. Let’s hope the others are better.

Via Gizmodo

Bounce House goes Airborne in New York

Yesterday, June 5, 2011, a heavy gust of wind suddenly picked up three inflatable bounce houses at a soccer event at the Oceanside United Soccer Club in Long Island, NY. There were children inside at the time and 13 people were injured, none seriously.

One bouncy house was lifted completely off the ground and became airborne. That one (shown in the video) seems to be a slide and not a house, so there probably weren’t any kids on it when it lifted off, although they were probably thrown off when the gust hit. Some people on the ground were struck by the floating, rolling houses.

There were no criminal charges filed.

It seems to me that if these houses had been properly anchored, this incident wouldn’t have happened.

Check out the video of the incident, then scroll down for some bounce house safety information.

If you or your organization is planning on having bounce houses at your event, following are some safety tips from the Safe Inflatable Operators Training Organization that you will want to follow.

Before signing a contract for bounce houses ask the following questions:

  • Are they insured? Get a copy of their insurance certificate.
  • Are they trained and how much experience do they have with inflatable rides?
  • What safety measures do they provide?

Once they arrive and as they are setting up check for the following to be sure it is done properly:

  • A tarp should be placed on the ground to protect the bottom of the house from rocks and sharp objects so it won’t deflate while children are playing on it.
  • The house should be staked down or heavily weighted with weights or sandbags.
  • Once inflated, check for rips or holes and general wear-and-tear. Has the house been patched many times?
  • Make sure the house is fully inflated and not sagging anywhere.
  • Be sure the operator goes over all operating and safety procedures verbally and leaves a printed copy. Ask questions if you don’t understand anything.

Once the operator has set up the unit and leaves be sure to:

  • Have someone attending the house at all times.
  • Children ages 3 and under should not be allowed on the ride.
  • Group children according to size. Big kids should not bounce with 5-year-olds.
  • Do not exceed the maximum ride capacity.
  • Perform safety checks frequently.
  • Turn the unit off during inclement weather or high winds.
  • Seek medical attention for any injuries that do occur.
  • Follow all rules left by the ride operator.

Parents at events and amusement parks should follow these safety tips:

  • Make sure you child only rides with other children of his/her size.
  • Be sure there aren’t already too many children on the ride. Get your child out if it becomes too crowded.
  • Always watch your child while on the ride. Accidents can happen in a split second.
  • Get your child off the ride if they seem to be getting tired. Sitting children are much more at risk of being jumped on by another child.
  • Be aware of all the safety rules.
  • Make sure someone is always supervising the bounce house and watching the activities inside.
  • If a bounce house does collapse, remove all the children immediately.

CNN Via Gizmodo

Play it Safe this 4th of July


Fireworks originated in China during the Sung dynasty, from 960 to 1279, when a cook discovered that a mixture of sulphur, saltpetre, and charcoal was highly flammable (I bet that was an interesting mealtime). Today’s fireworks are made colorful by combining potassium chlorate and various metallic salts which produce may colors. Strontium burns red, copper blue, barium glows green, and sodium produces yellow. Magnesium, aluminium, and titanium give off white sparkles or a flash.

As the Fourth of July holiday comes closer, most families will go to big community fireworks displays, which are performed by professionals that take many precautions to assure safety.

Some families will have their own backyard festivities with store-bought fireworks. Unfortunately, many will not take the safety precautions that the pros do.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 2004 (latest figures available) about 9,600 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for fireworks injuries. Over half were burns and most involved the hands, eyes, and head. About half of the victims were under 15 years of age.

Small children are especially vulnerable because they are attracted to the bright colors of fireworks, but don’t understand the danger. This includes “safe” fireworks such as sparklers, which burn at between 1832º – 3632º Fahrenheit. Yikes!

In 2005 fireworks caused an estimated 1,800 structure fires and 700 vehicle fires.

Following are some fireworks safety tips to keep kids safe this holiday and all summer

  • Only adults should handle fireworks. Tell children that they should leave the area immediately if their friends are using fireworks.
  • Sparklers, generally considered safe for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing.
  • Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.
  • Discuss safety procedures with your children. Teach children "stop, drop and roll" if their clothes catch fire. Make sure they know how to call 9-1-1. Show them how to put out fireworks by using water or a fire extinguisher.
  • Read labels and carefully follow directions. All fireworks must carry a warning label describing necessary safety precautions. If they don’t have the label, don’t use them.
  • Never use fireworks indoors.
  • Be sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never place your face or any other body part over fireworks (eye protection is recommended).
  • Never try to re-ignite fireworks that malfunction. Throw them away.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don’t go off.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
  • Check for drought conditions in your area. During those times, fireworks are usually banned completely.
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
  • Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
  • Observe local laws.
  • Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Be considerate of your neighbors and stop your celebrations by 10:00 p.m.
  • Clean up all the sticks, wires, tubes, etc. that are left around after your fireworks. Put them in a bucket of water and let them soak overnight to be sure they are out.
  • Many pets are terrorized by fireworks. Be sure your dogs and cats are in an area they feel secure in. Don’t take them to community fireworks displays.
  • Use common sense.
  • Even by following these tips, fireworks can still be quite dangerous. Use safe alternatives to fireworks such as Cap bombs, Sparklers, Party Poppers, Snappers, or Big-Bang Cannons (shameless plug).

This series of three images are from a Consumer Products Safety Commission fireworks safety demonstration using manequins illustrating a scene in an incident where a man and his nephew were killed as they removed powder from fireworks bought in New Hampshire to create larger, more powerful and illegal fireworks, in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Big Bang Cannons are the only safe substitute for fireworks. They were originally created because the inventor was concerned about the large amounts of injuries from fireworks.
Big Bang Cannons create a loud "bang" by imploding, Once the gas in the cannon ignites, it draws air back into the cannon, creating a noise as loud as fireworks. This makes them very safe because you cannot place anything in the barrel and expel it (that would only inhibit the combustion). They also do not use gunpowder or matches, instead using Bangsite as fuel. Bangsite is not combustible and cannot be ignited by fire or concussion (you can see why they are so safe). Because of these safety features, Big Bang Cannons can be fired by older children with adult supervision (follow all safety precautions). They are also quite loud and are certainly a great substitute for fireworks. Perfect for your 4th of July celebration!

This article is available for re-print here

Dave’s Cool Toys Blog
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