Perhaps you’ve seen some horrific footage showing an improperly secured bounce house becoming unmoored due to a sudden gust of wind. Or perhaps you’ve read a study that stated that inflatable bounce houses pose a hazard to children, making you question whether bounce houses are safe in the first place. Your worries are understandable because even the best bounce houses aren’t safe unless you adhere to some basic safety guidelines. That said, if you’re a responsible parent and are willing to learn how to use a bounce house safely, you have absolutely nothing to worry about, and your children are guaranteed to enjoy lots of fun bouncing around onto a moonwalk.
Bounce house safety hazards
Before we get to bounce house safety tips, let’s first take a closer look at some of the dangers associated with the irresponsible use of inflatable bounce castles, as explained by researchers from various institutions all over the world.
“Injuries such as sprains and fractures are widely acknowledged, but there is less awareness about possible hazards from excessive heat exposure,” claim Andrew Grundstein and J. Marshall Shepherd from the Department of Geography of the University of Georgia. “Results show that maximum air temperatures in the bounce house can reach up to 3.7°C (6.7°F) greater than ambient conditions, and peak heat index values may exceed outdoor conditions by 4.5°C (8.1°F). When considered within the context of the National Weather Service heat index safety categories, the bounce house reached the “danger” level in more than half of the observations, compared with only 7% of observations for ambient conditions. Parents and caregivers should be aware of heat-related hazards in bounce houses and closely monitor children, adjusting or canceling activities as conditions become more oppressive.”
Clearly, overheating is one health-related hazard associated with the use of bounce houses that not many parents are aware of. Considering that the temperatures inside bounce houses can reach dangerous levels, parents should consider placing a wireless temperature sensor inside the bouncer and always keep an eye on the temperature inside.
A group of researchers who published an article in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics wanted to show how skeletal injuries relate to inflatable bouncer use, describe their characteristics, and determine possible risk factors and preventive measures. The researchers studied forty-nine patients who were treated for inflatable bouncer-related fractures and concluded with, “Inflatable bouncers can cause serious orthopedic injuries. Children playing in the bouncer should be placed in small groups according to their size and should be closely supervised at all times.”
As the researchers who published their article in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics clearly express, jumping on an inflatable bounce house can be perfectly safe if the children are similar in size, age, and know how to behave.
Bounce house safety guidelines
Now that we know which safety hazards we want to avoid, it’s time to propose some basic safety guidelines for both children and parents to adhere to.
- Always provide adult supervision to children playing inside an inflatable bounce house. Remind yourself that an inflatable bounce house isn’t a babysitter but a toy that can be dangerous if not used correctly. Don’t expect your children to behave when you’re not around. They may start climbing over the walls, have fights onto the bounce house, and do other shenanigans that you certainly wouldn’t allow to happen.
- Always group children by age and give each group their own time to bounce, jump, or slide. As the above-cited researchers found out, most bounce house-related injuries happen because kids of different ages play together. It takes but a second for an eight-year-old to jump onto a child who’s half his or her age and cause him or her a serious injury.
- Never allow any adults onto the bounce house. While commercial bounce houses can easily support the weight of an adult, residential bounce houses are seldom equally durable. The last thing you want to happen is to damage your expensive bounce house that your children love so much because your drunk uncle regressed back to his childhood and wanted to try the bounce house out.
- Flips are absolutely not allowed in the bounce house. A cool and fun as they may be, flips can lead to serious neck and back injuries, which can even cause life-long health issues. If your children have acrobatic tendencies, sign them up for gymnastics so they can practice flips under the guidance of an experienced trainer.
- Keep all sharp objects away from inflatable bounce houses. Although bounce house repair kits are readily available these days, and some are even very easy to apply, it’s always better to avoid having to repair the bounce house because someone bought a sharp object onto it.
- The bounce house must be secured to the ground by stakes or sandbags. Surface such as grass or a hard-top surface. The bounce house should not be operated on rough surfaces such as rocks, bricks, glass, or jagged objects.
- Do not allow children to use the inflatable bounce house if the wind speed is in excess of 15 miles per hour. Most manufacturers even recommend completely deflating bounce houses when winds are 20 to 25 miles per hour or higher. Don’t underestimate this safety guideline. In 2014, two young boys from upstate New York fell to the ground after the inflatable house was lifted 15 to 20 feet into the air by a sudden and strong burst of wind.
- Keep food, drinks, and snacks away from bounce houses. You would go insane from the constant cleaning, and some snacks and drinks could damage the fabric the bounce house is made of or get into the seams and compromise their integrity.
- Never allow children in or on a partially inflated unit. Inflatable bounce houses are safe for jumping only when they are fully inflated. As impatient as your children may be, make them wait until the bounce house is fully inflated.
- Follow all manufactures setup procedures and safety instructions.