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Bounce house blues: Injuries on the rise

Bounce houses and kids’ birthday parties are synonymous, but are they getting more dangerous?

The AAP’s recent study found that inflatable bouncer-related injuries are continuing to happen, but you may not have to ban your brood from the jumper when you understand how to avoid the bounce house blues, despite the fact that injuries are on the rise.

Increase in bounce house injuries

In a recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in the December 2012 issue of Pediatrics, researchers reported that an estimated 64,657 children ages 17 years old and younger were treated in emergency rooms for inflatable bouncer injuries across the country between 1990 and 2010. In 2010 alone, an average of 31 kids per day were treated for bouncer boo-boos nationally.

“Some of the most common injuries we’ve seen involving inflatable bouncers include concussions, fractures, lacerations and dental injuries,” explains Christopher Haines, DO, the director of the Emergency Department at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. “The most severe involved children being ejected through the door, so be sure children are monitored at all times.”

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Who’s to blame for bounce house injuries?

While the data of this recent study doesn’t explain why the number of injuries has more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, increased use could be the culprit. So, what’s being done to address the national epidemic of constant air inflatable play devices? Although no mandatory regulations are likely to be enforced, ASTM International is proposing that bounce house standards are developed.

Inflatable bouncer safety tips

In the meantime, while keeping your youngsters on the sidelines to watch as other kids jump to their heart’s delight can be considered cruel and unusual punishment, it’s more practical to learn how to make your kiddo’s time in the bounce house safer. Check out the Consumer Product and Safety Commission’s safety statement issued in 2001 along with these safety tips on giving bounce house injuries the boot:

  • Enforce proper supervision and do not leave kids in the bounce house unattended, regardless of age
  • Watch weight limitations to avoid causing the bouncer to bust
  • Bounce by age and height and avoid mixing groups to keep kids safer
  • Limit how many kids can bounce at a time, using bouncer company recommendations as a guide
  • Secure your inflatable bouncer to reduce your risk the bouncer will collapse or tip over, especially on windy days
  • Restrict flips, somersaults and horseplay to limit bounce house injuries
  • Prohibit food or drink in bounce house to dodge slipping — and forfeiting your deposit
  • Forbid laying or sitting down while others are bouncing in the moon jumper
  • Remove shoes, glasses, jewelry etc. before entering bouncer
  • Ban pets and grownups from the inflatable fun; exceeded weight limits and mixed groups can lead to injuries

Keep your kids safe with these playground safety tips >>

While it’s tempting to boost your youngster into a jumper and head off for a lounge chair, a little common sense — and the AAP’s warnings — can go a long way to banishing these bounce house blues. “The alarming 15-fold increase in the number of injuries from inflatable bouncers is an epidemic in public health terms,” said Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “It is time for us to take action to prevent these [bounce house] injuries. Ensuring that parents are aware of the potential risks, improving surveillance of these injuries, promoting national safety guidelines, and improving bouncer design are important next steps.”

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