Head to any fair, festival, carnival or block party this summer and chances are, you'll find inflatable bounce houses for kids. While your children may jump with excitement to hop on in, many parents are left worrying about their safety.
And it's no wonder why: Recently, two children were hurt at a suburban Denver lacrosse tournament as 30 mph wind gusts carried a bounce house 200 feet. A few weeks before that incident, two young boys suffered serious injuries when a gust of wind blew away a bounce house in South Glens Falls, N.Y. And you may remember that in 2011, 13 people were hurt when a bounce house took flight in Oceanside, also because of wind gusts.
“All childhood activities have a certain level of risk of injury," said Teresa Cappello, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "As parents we have to realize kids will sometimes get hurt, but we need to be vigilant to help avoid them as much as possible and keep our kids safe from serious injuries."
The most common bounce house injury in children occurs in the upper extremities, especially the elbow. The injuries usually are caused by a collision between jumpers, a fall onto an outstretched hand inside the bounce house or if a child falls out of the bouncer, according to Cappello.
"Injuries inside bounce houses commonly happen when children of different ages and sizes are jumping at the same time," she said. Cappello suggested parents place children into small groups by age and size and have an adult at the entrance to ensure the appropriate kids are playing together and that no one falls out.
It’s also important to limit the number of children in a bounce house at a time, she said. "If there are too many children, they are more likely to fall out of the entrance and injure themselves on the hard ground."