Recent Scare of Bounce House Floating Away with Children Inside
Dangers of Bounce Houses
The recent story of the three children that were lifted into the air when the inflatable bounce house blew away prompted this article for our clients. Inflatable bounce houses have become increasingly popular at both big commercial events like– church picnics, county and mall fairs, and indoor playgrounds. Once touted as a safe place for children to jump around, have now presented a new set of concerns that parents should consider.
Bounce House Injuries on the Rise
According to a recent study conducted by Dr. Gary Smith, Director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, bounce house injuries have skyrocketed. In 2010 alone, 31 children were treated in emergency departments each day on average. He says, “That’s about one child every 45 minutes.” The study also reports, the number of inflatable bouncer-related injuries rose 1,500% between 1995 and 2010 and in the last two years of the study, from 2008 to 2010, the rate of injuries more than doubled.
On May 14, 2014, CNN reported three children, ages 5, 6 and 10, soared up to 50 feet in the air when the Little Tikes brand bounce house they were playing in was lifted and swept away by a strong gust of wind. The children fell from the inflatable as it reached heights of 15 to 20 feet. The two boys were seriously injured; one with a serious head injury and the other with broken bones. The girl suffered scrapes and a minor injury to her shoulder when she was tossed from the bounce house once it became airborne.
Police say the toy was installed correctly, but the wind lifted it anyway. The homeowner’s children were not in the bounce house at the time and he feels awful about what happened to the other children. While responsibility for commercial bounce house accidents can vary, as described below, what happens in the case of a bounce house accident during home use?
Commercial Bounce House Liability
Who is responsible for bounce house injuries? Several people or companies could be at fault, including:
- The operator/supervisor of the bounce house when the injury occurred
- The renter—the person, group, entity, or organization responsible for leasing the bounce house (often the same person who is required to supervise the ride during the lease)
- The business that leased the bounce house to the renter
- The bounce house installer
Bounce House Safety Precautions
Although there are national safety guidelines for trampolines, none have been established for inflatable bounce houses. The ASTM, an international standards development organization, is working on standards for “Constant Air Inflatable Play Devices.” Until then, the following safety precautions are recommended:
- Read and follow all directions, especially proper installation of anchors.
- Don’t let children under the age of 6 play in inflatables.
- Group children the same age and size together during play sessions.
- No horseplay, flips and somersaults.
- Always have adult supervision — but not inside with the children.
- Check your state law for license safety.
In Texas, inflatable operators need to file an insurance policy with the Texas Department of Insurance and then pass a safety inspection. After state approval, they receive an amusement ride compliance sticker for each inflatable they maintain. In Houston, only 30 are actually licensed with the safety inspections although at least 170 of these bounce house businesses advertise their service.
More inflatable bounce house tips are available on The Child Injury Prevention Alliance website.