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Study: Inflatable bouncer injuries on the rise

This year's Oktoberfest in Locust Valley featured an

This year's Oktoberfest in Locust Valley featured an inflatable slide and a bounce house. The event at Thomas Park also includes live music, food such as bratwurst, and pumpkin painting. (Sept. 22, 2012) Credit: Johnny Milano

Chances are, your kids have encountered inflatable bouncers, such as bounce houses, slides and moonwalks at birthday parties and family festivals.

Although your child is having a blast, you may want to take note.

In recent years, injury rates on inflatable bouncers are on the rise. According to a study in the December issue of Pediatrics, from 1990 to 2010, more than 64,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency departments for inflatable-bouncer-related injuries.

What's more, from 2008 to 2010, the number of pediatric inflatable-bouncer-related injuries more than doubled to an average of 31 children injured per day. Arm or leg fractures and strains or sprains were the most common types of injury, as well as falls, with stunts and collisions also contributing to the injury rate.

"We want our kids to be active, but we want them to do it safely," said Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Here, Smith offers five tips on how parents can help prevent kids' injuries on inflatables:

1. Consider limiting the use of inflatable bouncers to children who are 6 or older.

2. Be sure there is always an adult to supervise while the bouncer is in use.

3. Ideally, the safest way to use an inflatable bouncer is one child on the bouncer at a time. "Now having said this, inflatables are typically used in environments in bounce centers and birthday parties where multiple children are using them at the same time," said Smith. "Knowing that, parents can also help limit the possibility of injury by making sure the children using it are approximately the same age and size.

4. Make sure the inflatables are not overcrowded. If they are, have your child wait until there are fewer kids.

5. Manuevers like flips and somersaults offer higher risks for neck injuries. Encourage your kids to avoid these kinds of stunts.

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