A study released in the journal Pediatrics on Monday found that every 46 minutes, a child is injured seriously enough in a bounce house to warrant a trip to the emergency room.
According to the study, at least 31 children each day end up in the hospital with broken bones, strains and sprains. At least 20 percent of the injuries are to the head and neck, which are often more serious, the study’s authors said.
“Bounce houses are popular ... they seem to be cheap and people rent them for a day or two,” said Dr. Ayman Arouse, a pediatrician on the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne. “With those and trampolines, we are having a rapid increase in the number of injuries. With [too many] kids inside, different ages and sizes, we see bruising, abrasions, lacerations and head injuries.”
Between 1990 and 2010, nearly 65,000 children age 17 and younger were involved in inflatable bouncer-related injuries which were treated in emergency rooms. From 1995-2010 the study authors found there were as many as 5.28 injuries per 100,000 children.
More than half of patients treated were about 7 1/2 years old and male, but only 3.4 percent were kept in the hospital for more than 24 hours for observation. That’s because most of the injuries were non-life threatening. The study did not look at fatalities.
Bounce house rental companies, such as Louisiana-based Space Walk, which has locations in Cleburne and Burleson, and Jump ’n Apes have insurance and guidelines for proper use of bounce houses, but injuries still happen.
The study authors found that many of the accidents happened with too many children in an inflatable house at once, or children of different ages and weights playing together. Similar accidents happen on trampolines, researchers said.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics is against buying or using trampolines,” Arouse said. “They have not made a statement about the bounce houses so far. It’s hard to say we don’t recommend bounce houses completely. Obviously, it’s not advisable if you ask me as a pediatrician.”
Arouse said children under 6 should never use the inflatable toys, and advises only one child in the house at a time. If that’s not possible, only children of the same age, size and/or weight should be in the house together. An adult should always be near the bounce house entrance, but never inside with children.
Arouse added that horseplay or gymnastics should be discouraged.
Several bounce house accidents garnered media attention in the last year, including one in Tucson, Ariz., when wind picked up a bounce house and wrapped it around a pole, according to an ABC affiliate. Despite no serious injuries, doctors at the time were already questioning the safety of the houses. Other reported accidents were similar in nature. According to the Space Walk website, inflatable bounce houses, while heavy, present a large surface to the wind. If the inflatable isn’t anchored correctly, the house can be lifted off the ground and blown away — with children inside. The site says children should never use a bounce house if wind speeds reach 20 mph.
Calls to Space Walk were not returned.