In recent years, bounce houses — those giant inflatable enclosures — and inflatable slides have grown leaps and bounds in popularity. And because of the amount of padding these huge toys provide, parents have expressed little concern for the safety of their children.
However, following the basic safety rules — such as occupancy and weight limits — that come along with a bounce house is key. Not doing so can significantly raise the risk of incident and/or injury.
For example, a women and 12 others were recently injured when the wind lifted an inflatable slide and took its participants with it. From coast to coast, at least 10 inflatables have blown away or collapsed under too much weight in the past few months, injuring more than 40 people, according to RideAccidents.com.
Injuries can also occur from bouncing out of the house onto the ground or by colliding with a person or object inside the structure. A Consumer Product Safety Commission report released in 2005 linked the growing popularity of inflatables with an increasing number of injuries at emergency rooms from 1997 to 2004. The agency identified an estimated 1,300 injuriesin 1997 and 4,900 in 2004, the most recent data available.
Most large, inflatable “toy” accidents are caused by improper anchoring, high winds and lack of supervision. It is estimated that there are 10,000 operators or renters of inflatables nationwide. However, industry experts claim supervision of these operators would be too expensive to manage.
Given the lack of professional supervision, here are 10 tips from My Parent Time to ensure a fun, yet safe, bouncing experience:
- Hire a rental company that is insured. This demonstrates a commitment to safety.
- Watch your kids closely when they play in or around an inflatable.
- Make sure the unit is staked down or heavily weighted down with ground weights or sandbags.
- When the unit is inflated, make sure there are no visible rips or holes.
- Make sure the unit is fully inflated and not sagging.
- The operator must cover all operating and safety procedures verbally — and should leave printed instructions as well.
- Do not exceed the maximum capacity/occupancy at anytime.
- Make sure to put your child in with other children his/her size.
- Remove any children who seem tired. A sitting child risks getting jumped or landed on.
- Turn the unit off during inclement weather or high winds.
Additionally, check the temperature inside the bounce house. An enclosed inflatable will get very hot very quickly. Children should always be supervised around a bounce house/inflatable. Most accidents can be avoided with careful preparation and planning.