Inflatable bouncers, more commonly known as “bounce houses,” are popular among parties and fairs, but a recent report reveals that the number of child injuries increased 1,500 percent from 1995 to 2010, according to CNN. Although trampolines have posed similar risks for children, trampoline injuries are declining while bounce house injuries continues to rise and can lead to hospitalization for sprains, head and neck injuries.
After treating numerous children who came into the emergency room with inflatable bouncer injuries, Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital launched a study to track the number of injuries from this popular form of entertainment. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) collects patient information for every emergency visit involving a consumer product, and Dr. Smith, along with his team, analyzed these records to gather data.
According to the report, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, about 30 children a day were treated for inflatable bouncer injuries, which is roughly one child every 45 minutes. From 1995 to 2010, the number of reported injuries rose from 702 to 11,311. Smaller children are at a greater risk, and nearly 1 in 5 children experienced head or neck injuries, which commonly occur from flips or somersaults.
While there are national safety guidelines for trampolines, the ASTM International is still developing standards for inflatable play devices. Dr. Smith, however, notes that parents can take action to help prevent injuries. Children of the same size and age should play inside the bouncers at one time, and children under six should not be allowed inside the inflatable devices. Since flips and stunts commonly lead to injuries, parents should prohibit this kind of activity and should always be present when the devices are in use.
Despite the risks associated with the inflatable bouncers, Smith and his team are not calling for a ban, as they still want to encourage children to spend time participating in physical activity outdoors. However, Smith does point out that these numbers are a call for parents to pay attention and increase safety on the devices: “This is an emerging hazard, something that should be taken seriously, but something that can be prevented.”