5 Key Bounce House Safety Rules
From the moon bounce to inflatable slides, what to know before you let kids jump in
Few kids can resist a bounce house, those “moon bounce” inflatables that pop up at birthday parties and carnivals, and it's easy to see why. It's also easy to see how all the bouncing around could lead to injuries.
In 2012 and 2013, about 18,000 people each year were injured on inflatable amusements according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Arm and leg injuries are the most common type of injury, and kids ages of four and 15 are most likely to get hurt, the CPSC says.
So as your kids tear off their shoes and make a beeline for that colorful castle, keep these five safety rules for bounce houses in mind.
Related: Are Indoor Trampoline Parks Safe?
1. Make sure the house is securely anchored to the ground. This goes for party hosts as well as parents allowing their kids to jump. All four corners should be staked into the ground and weighted down. Follow manufacturer’s instruction for proper staking or anchoring of the bounce house., Vince Pivlo, owner of Laff & Grinn Amusements, told CBS New York.
2. Monitor the weather. Sudden wind gusts, lightning storms and similar weather events create a dangerous condition for these inflatable amusement devices. Stop use and evacuate all occupants to a safe indoor location prior to any strong wind events or storms. A recent news story highlights the importance of this last recommendation. A 7-year-old girl in England died when a “fun fair” bouncy house she was in blew away in sudden high winds. Two people were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence as a result, the Chicago Tribune reports.
3. Let kids bounce according to age and size. Don’t let a four-year-old enter a house full of teenagers, advises the child safety group Kids in Danger.
4. Watch your child constantly. In New Zealand last summer, a young boy fell through a hole in a bouncy house and became trapped in the netting underneath. His father told Yahoo! News that no one could hear the boy screaming, but since he had been watching, he knew his son was trapped and was able to save him.
5. Beware the deflating bouncy house. A house can deflate unexpectedly if a cord is accidentally unplugged or if power is lost. When that happens, people can become trapped inside under the falling folds of material. In 2013, three toddlers in Washington were trapped in a bounce house when a generator ran out of gas and the inflatable began deflating, according to ABC News. Luckily, they were all rescued and unharmed, thanks to a 10-year-old girl who saved them.
CPSC reports injuries associated with inflatable amusements in the years 2003-2013
CPSC reported the estimated number of injuries associated with inflatable amusements in the years 2003-2013. The report also contains information about fatality cases associated with inflatable amusements for the same time period. Some of the main findings in this report are:
- There were an estimated 113,272 emergency department-treated injuries associated with inflatable amusements in the years 2003-2013.
- More than 90 percent of the estimated injuries associated with inflatable amusements were linked to moon bounces.
- There was a statistically significant increasing linear trend of yearly estimates for emergency department-treated injuries associated with inflatable amusements.
- Sixty-one percent of the estimated injuries in the years 2011-2013 were in the 4 to 15 years age group.
- Most of the injuries were to the limbs, with leg and arm injuries accounting for 66 percent.
- There were 12 deaths reported to CPSC involving inflatable amusements that occurred in the years 2003-2013.
A note about regulation
The federal government doesn’t regulate inflatable amusements such as bounce houses. ASTM International, an organization that establishes standards for a wide range of products, developed safety standards for them around 2004, but adherence to those regulations is voluntary, Len Morrissey, one of the group’s directors for standards development, told PBS.
It’s worth noting that while inflatable amusement injuries have risen over the past decade, according to the CPSC bounce houses are still safer than other playground equipment, such as skateboards, which were tied to 114,000 injuries in 2012.
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