It has almost become a weekend staple around the country. Nearly every weekend, you will see inflatable bounce houses set up in local parks and fields. There are also many indoor bounce facilities sprouting up around the United States. In these indoor bounce facilities, there are often several bounce houses to accommodate scores of children on busy afternoons and weekends. Along with the fun that children get from playing in a bounce house comes the inherent risk for injuries and safety issues that all parents need to be aware of.
I have seen several children in the emergency department for injuries sustained from a bounce house. Most often these are simple muscle sprains but also include broken bones and concussions.
In a study published in 2012 in Pediatrics, the researchers looked at emergency room data for a 20 year period from 1990-2010. They found that there were an estimated 65,000 injuries from inflatable bouncers, with the numbers increasing significantly over the past few years. In fact, the study found that in 2010, an estimated 31 children were brought to emergency rooms per day around the US. This equates to one child being injured while playing in a bounce house approximately every 45 minutes.
Some injury prevention tips for bounce houses:
- Never exceed the recommended number of children in the bounce house (numbers vary based on size and style).
- Never let children bounce without direct adult supervision.
- Any time there is more than one child in a bounce house, make sure they are around the same age/weight.
- Injuries often occur from older children falling on or knocking into smaller kids.
- Remove shoes or sandals while bouncing.
- Do not let children wrestle or rough-house while in a bounce house.
- Never allow children to use an outdoor bounce house in inclement weather, including strong winds.
- Follow all safety guidelines that come with each bounce house regarding setup and use.
- The Child Injury Prevention Alliance recommends that only children age 6 years or older use a bounce house.
- This is often difficult for parents to follow. It is hard to tell a 4 or 5 year old that they cannot bounce, especially when they see their older sibling or friends bouncing.
- Other tips from the Child Injury Prevention Alliance
Recently, I was told of a scary “near miss” that occurred at an indoor bounce facility. On a rainy day, with numerous children bouncing and having fun, the power went out in the entire facility. With no backup generator, this caused all of the bounce houses to begin to deflate rather quickly. Luckily, there were no injuries that I was made aware of and the power came back on after about a minute. However, this underscores another safety issue that parents need to address prior to bringing their child to an indoor-bounce facility.
- Does the facility have adequate numbers of trained staff members who are monitoring the bounce houses and how many children are in them at a time?
- Does the facility have a back-up generator to avoid instances such as the story above?
It was fortunate that there were no injuries from the deflating bounce houses and this is not meant to scare parents away from bringing their child to an indoor bounce facility. This article is meant to make parents more educated consumers and inquire as to safety protocols and generators that a facility has in place.
In case you were wondering, there are no national safety regulations for indoor bounce facilities and any rules/regulations will vary with each state.
A report from ABC Action News I-Team in Tampa, FL in October, 2012 found that only 25 states have regulations for bounce houses at parks and carnivals. There are 16 states that regulate companies who rent bounce houses. As of this report, my state, Florida was not one of those with regulations and has a state statute which makes bounce houses and inflatable rides exempt from inspections by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services who oversees inspection of amusement rides.