Bounce Houses: Risk of Injury for Kids
On the way to work, one morning, I was listening to talk radio and the host and guest were talking about the fact that 10,000 children a year are injured in those big and fun looking “bounce houses” that parents rent for parties. You see them in driveways on weekends with happy kids bouncing around inside. It used to make me smile to see children laughing and balloons decorating the house. I had no idea they were so dangerous! When my daughter was school age, I bought a trampoline for our yard to encourage outdoor play, but my rules were very strict. Only one child at a time could be on the trampoline, otherwise I noticed one might bounce the other higher than they could handle safely and they might collide. Bounce houses, however, are often full of children of all ages. As their use has increased the injuries have been skyrocketing.
Risk of Injury and Bounce Houses
Did you know the number of inflatable bouncer-related injuries rose 1,500 percent between 1995 and 2010? CNN Health reported that the rise is due to the rise in popularity of bounce houses in the U.S. More than one third of injuries in bounce houses occurred in children under age five. Some of the risks include:
- Arm and leg injuries
- Head and neck injuries. In fact, one in five children suffered from a head and neck injury.
A caller to the radio talk show said he used to deliver bounce houses. After some time, began to believe they were “terrible things.” He told a story about where the plug to the bounce house was accidentally pulled out and the house “instantly deflated” with kids flying out of the house or being trapped in the plastic.
How to Prevent Bounce House Injuries
After hearing and reading about the risk of injury of bounce houses, I spoke with the Injury Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and discovered resources from Child Injury Prevention Alliance. Here are safety tips to consider if renting a bounce house:
- Children under the age of six should not play in bounce houses.
- Only small groups of children (less than four) of similar size and age should play at the same time; however one child at a time is the safest way to play.
- Parents should not allow kids to do somersaults, flips or general horseplay; these activities result in the most severe injuries.
- A parent should be supervising the bounce house at all times, not inside, but watching the children in the play device and be prepared to intervene if any dangerous play begins.
- Children should take their shoes, eyeglasses and jewelry off and remove all sharp objects from pockets when entering a bounce house.
- When in the bounce house, children should stay away from the entrance, exit and sides or walls of the bounce house.
- If the bounce house begins to lose air, stop play immediately and carefully exit the bouncer.
Bounce House Setup
If you rent a bounce house, there are also guidelines for setting up the bounce houses such as making sure the surface is flat and free of objects underneath and also away from tree branches and power lines. If the bounce house is on a hard surface, provide a soft landing at the exit. Use a large rubber or gymnastics mat, a mattress or big soft daddy. By following these guidelines, you will be able to let kids have fun and play while still avoiding accidents in bounce houses.