Bouncers Beware

A new report shows a jump in the number of bounce-house related injuries

Nov 26, 2012 | By Cameron Keady with AP reporting
MARK DYBALL—ALAMY

Beware of the bounce house! A new report, published online today in the scientific journal Pediatrics, says inflatable bounce houses can be dangerous. In recent years, the number of injuries from bouncing has skyrocketed. The report says that children should use extreme caution when playing on these devices. 

For the safest play, children of similar age and size should bounce together.
ANDREW HOLT—ALAMY
For the safest play, children of similar age and size should bounce together.

From Bounce to Ouch

Over the past 15 years, the popularity of bounce houses at birthday parties, fairs and other events has grown. Unfortunately, so has the number of children who suffer injuries while playing in bounce houses. In 1995, fewer than 1,000 children visited the emergency room for bounce house accidents. In 2010 there were nearly 11,000 accidents. The study reports that each day in the United States, 30 children are treated in emergency rooms for sprains, cuts, concussions and broken bones from jumping on the inflatable devices. These reported injuries all occurred with children aged 17 and younger. More than a third of the injuries were with children younger than 5. “I was surprised by the number, especially by the rapid increase in the number of injuries,” said Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Playing It Safe

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of children’s doctors. Earlier this year, the group spoke out against the use of trampolines at home. Bounce houses, also called moon jumps, are similar to trampolines and present many of the same hazards. On both devices, injuries can occur from rough play, doing flips, and colliding with other jumpers. Bounce houses run the risk of accidentally deflating or collapsing from high winds. To avoid these risks, children should play with jumpers of a similar size and age. The number of people on the inflatable plaything should be limited, and a list of safety tips that are often included with bounce houses should be reviewed before use. In addition, Dr. Smith, in Ohio, says that it makes sense for kids younger than 6 years old to stay out of bounce houses, noting that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that children under the age of 6 should not use full-size trampolines.