Bounce houses are fun for the whole family. Whether you are jumping, running through an obstacle course, or sliding down an inflatable water slide, they are a great way burn energy! Bounce houses, however, are also the cause of many serious injuries. According to a study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in 2010, more than 30 children per day, or about one child every 45 minutes, were treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries associated with inflatable bouncers.
To stay safe on bounce houses, it is important to follow any rules posted in the play area. Generally, a bounce house should be placed on a flat, even surface. Make sure that it is clear of any trees, branches, or electrical lines and that it is secured properly to the ground. If placed on a hard surface, the bounce house should have soft mats near the entrance and exit. If a bounce house is set up inside, make sure it is away from all walls and has open spaces on all sides of the structure.
Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe on bounce houses:
Before entering a bounce house, take off shoes, glasses, jewelry, and any other loose objects.
Always make sure an adult or trained staff member is close by to supervise activities.
The safest way to use a bouncer is to have only one child on the bouncer at a time. If more than one child will be on the bouncer at the same time, the children should be approximately of the same age and size.
Refrain from rough play like tackling, wrestling, or doing flips.
Make sure that the bouncer meets the age and weight requirements; in general, limit bounce house use to children 6 years of age and older.
Because bouncers are using a lot of energy—often in the heat of summer—it is important to stay hydrated! Make sure to take frequent water breaks to prevent dehydration.
Keep your eye on the weather. Wind speeds as low as 13 mph can cause some bounce houses to deflate or come up off the ground. If there are winds or rain in the area, close down the bounce house until better weather has returned.
If an injury occurs in a bounce house, remember some basic first aid:
Minor scrapes and cuts: Clean the area using soap and water, disinfect using an antibiotic cream and cover with a bandage.
Minor abrasions and burns: Apply a topical burn cream to the area.
Heat exhaustion: Bring child to a cool place and elevate their feet. Sponge entire body with cool water.
Serious injuries: Seek immediate medical attention if your child sprains or breaks a bone, is suspected to have a concussion, or severely hurts their head, neck, or spine.
Have fun this summer while bouncing on inflatable structures—but be proactive! Taking the necessary precautions and learning more about bounce houses will help minimize the risk of injuries. If you have questions or feel unsure about a stability of a bounce house, ask the attendant on duty.
Tracy Mehan is the manager of translational research for the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
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