Moon bounces, also called house bounces, are about as universally loved by kids as ice cream cones on a summer day and candy bars on Halloween.
Recently, five children were injured when a strong wind picked up two bounce houses at a church carnival in South Carolina, sending one of these inflatables into a tree and the other into a power line, authorities said.
Lily Creech never imagined that an inflatable bounce house could lead to so much suffering for her 11-year-old daughter. It was her company picnic in Miami. Barbecue smoke hung in the air. Kids were rough-housing on a bouncer with a giant, two-story slide. Creech’s daughter, Nathalia Martin, climbed the steps and began to slide down. But near the top, her ankle got caught in some bunched-up material. Her left distal tibia and fibula snapped.
Unfortunately, the number of injuries from inflatable bounce houses has skyrocketed over the last 20 years to more than 30 children injured each day, about one every 45 minutes, and some of the injuries were severe or even fatal, according to the Child Injury Prevention Alliance.
According to emergency room data, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported more than 18,800 injuries in 2012 as a result of moon bounces, bounce houses and inflatable amusements. That’s a threefold increase from six years earlier, according to the commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
The good news? You can brush up on the best practices for using a bounce house, and ensure your family enjoys the inflatable in the safest way possible.
Ted Amberg is chief executive officer of Amberg Entertainment, a Missouri-based company that supplies entertainment for business, school and church events in 22 states. The key for parents, Amberg says, is “understanding and being aware of the three Ws of bounce house safety—weather, workers and warranty.”
The three Ws for bounce house safety:
The first W: weather
Wind is “the number one enemy” of an inflatable and can cause it to become dangerous, he said. Wind also appears to have been a factor in the two recent incidents where the bounce houses blew away.
Most manufacturers recommend removing children from bounce houses and/or deflating them when winds are 20 to 25 miles per hour or higher, Amberg said.
The Second W: workers
The second “W” stands for workers, the people who are operating the bounce house. Amberg says a lot of people, especially some of the newer operators who have just gotten into the business, don’t understand how the inflatable should be anchored to the ground.
“They are using 4- or 5-inch plastic stakes,” he said, whereas his operators would use “30- to 40-inch heavy-duty metal” ones.
“It’s lack of judgment that almost always causes the problem, not using proper anchoring or not monitoring the situation.”
Which leads to another piece of advice: Parents should make sure there is an operator present at the bounce house.
“It’s kind of like the swimming pool. You’re not going to leave that unsupervised. You should never leave an inflatable unsupervised.”
The final W: warranty
The final “W” stands for warranty, encouraging parents to ask the operator to see the company’s current insurance policy and state inspections.
Now, this gets somewhat complicated. There are no national inspection guidelines or regulations for bounce houses. Inspections are left up to the states. Some have thorough inspection programs, and some have none at all, said Amberg, but parents can inquire with the operator or the manufacturer to learn about inspections to the bounce houses and to get more of a sense of a company’s reputation.
Dear parents, we know it’s not comfortable to be hovering over your children, but it is the parent’s job to assess whether there’s an excessive risk to the activity our children want to take. Sure, the kids might cry when you tell them they need to come out of the bounce house, but tears are preferable to an incident.
Have a serious injury and need legal advice? Contact Howard Blau.
Please Be Sure to Read the Following References:
“10 of the Worst Bounce House Accidents.” WYFF4 On Demand. Retrieved 13 June 2017 from http://www.wyff4.com/article/10-of-the-worst-bounce-house-accidents/9255869
“5 Children Injured When Church Carnival Bounce Houses Go Airborne in Soutch Carolina Due to Strong Wind.” KTLA 5. Retrieved 13 June 2017 from http://ktla.com/2017/04/09/5-children-injured-when-church-carnival-bounce-houses-go-airborne-in-south-carolina-due-to-strong-wind/
“How Safe are Bounce Houses for Kids, Really?” PBS SoCal. Retrieved 13 June 2017 from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/safe-bounce-houses-kids-really/
“Inflatables Aren’t Babysitters: How to Keep Kids Safe in Bounce Houses.” Retrieved 13 June 2017 from http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/03/living/bounce-house-safety-parents/index.html