by: Edward B. Mulligan V, Attorney
Child injuries associated with bounce houses and inflatable moonwalks are growing at an alarming rate. In 2010 alone, more than 11,000 children were rushed to an emergency room because of bounce house injuries. A recent study by American Academy of Pediatrics suggests inflatable bouncer-related injuries are growing at a faster rate than trampoline-related injuries, which have been thought to be one of the most dangerous pieces of recreational equipment for children. The report published in November 2012 is the first study of its kind to use nationally representative data regarding injury rates, types, and risk factors in assessing inflatable bouncer-related injuries.
Inflatable structures like jumping castles, houses, and inflatable obstacle courses were all included in the study. Common injuries include fractures, strains, and sprains as well as head and neck injuries due to falling, stunts, or collisions with other jumpers. Just like with trampolines, serious injuries are more likely to occur on bounce houses when two or more children are involved due to the added risk of collision.
The study concluded that the annual injury rate associated with inflatable bouncers more than doubled between 2008 and 2010. Doctors estimate that one child every 46 minutes is injured in a bounce house or inflatable structure.
Bounce House Safety
There are a number of things that adults can do to reduce the risk of injury from playing in bounce houses and inflatable structures.
• Be sure that the bounce house is properly anchored to the ground with weights and stakes
• Be aware of weather conditions and do not operate during high winds or storms
• Limit the number of children allowed in or on the structure to decrease the chance of collisions
• Have an adult supervise jumpers at all times
• Food and drinks should not be allowed inside the bounce house
• All objects should be removed from pockets before play
In addition to these tips, manufacturers of inflatable bouncers can help ensure the safety of children by educating operators of bounce houses and parents about proper installation and use as well as evaluate product design to help reduce the number of children injured each year.