This is just the latest case of what can only be described as a parent's worst nightmare. On May 12, an inflatable bounce house was swept 50 feet into the air in New York. Onlookers said it was like a horror movie -- it kept going up and up after breaking loose from its plastic anchor stakes. Three children inside were injured.
Over the past few years, bounce-house related injuries have risen at an alarming rate. A nationwide study released in 2012, found inflatable bounce houses can be dangerous and the number of kids injured in related accidents has soared 15-fold in recent years. The numbers suggest 30 U.S. children a day are treated in emergency rooms for broken bones, sprains, cuts and concussions from bounce house accidents.
If your kids are set on having a bounce-house at their next birthday, follow these tips to cut down on the risk of injury.
Limit the number of kids
This may be the most important one: the more kids there are in the bounce house, the easier it will be for someone to accidentally jump on someone else's hand. Depending on how old the kids are, 4-6 is a good number.
Don't let younger kids play with older, heavier ones inside
There's a big size difference between a 3-year-old and an 8-year old. To avoid crushing the littler bouncers, keep older kids separate and decide on different times for them to play.
Make sure you rent from a reputable company
It may seem silly to be so serious about something like a bounce house, but safety should be the rental company's highest priority. Ask about any past accidents and what precautions they take to reduce them (stronger securing measures, ample inflation, etc).
Have a trained supervisor present at the party
Ask if there is someone available to chaperone your bounce house. Having a trained expert on hand can cut down the risk of many common problems like under-inflation or permanent harm from minor injuries.
Ban overly exuberant bouncers
Just like mini-golfers are forbidden from swinging above the knee, kids should be banned from performing backflips and other dangerous maneuvers inside bouncy houses. Think you're killing all their fun? Have alternative play options like Frisbees or games like musical chairs ready to go.
Bounce houses will likely remain a staple of backyard and park parties everywhere. Follow these safety tips and you'll help to ensure a good time for all.