Take a kid to a party with a bounce house and chances are you won’t see them for long. Most kids are thrilled to jump and flip in these inflatables for hours. Bounce houses and other inflatables seem to be at every church picnic and child birthday party, providing endless entertainment for kids and even adults. However, injuries are on the rise and some of these injuries can be life threatening.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 2003 and 2013, 113,272 emergency department-treated injuries occurred due to inflatables. There were also 12 deaths reported in that period. That means on average 31 people per day were seen in emergency rooms with injuries from inflatables.
Everyone has seen the videos of bounce houses flying away due to high winds, but in reality, most injuries occur inside the bounce houses. Broken bones and head injuries are the most common. While most broken bones will eventually heal, a neck or spine fracture can be fatal or have life-long consequences.
These inflatables aren’t going anywhere. However, a few things can make them safer:
Follow all manufacturer instructions and guidelines
- Using an inflatable as intended is the safest way. Make sure all straps are used properly and the inflatable is set up as intended. If there are straps that are not being used, ensure they are properly tied up so that children can’t get entangled in them. Ensure the bounce house is secured to the ground per the instructions.
Only allow children of the same size/age in an inflatable together
- Older kids can end up hurting younger kids by bouncing aggressively and knocking into them.
Only use outdoor inflatables in good weather
- If the weather conditions are at all questionable, remove children from the inflatable.
Ensure inflatables used indoors have adequate ground padding and clearance around them
- Serious injuries have occurred from children falling off inflatables onto a hard floor.
Closely supervise children playing in inflatables, no matter how old they are
- There’s no substitute for close supervision. Older kids and even adults can get hurt in an inflatable.