Q: Inflatable bounce houses seem to be everywhere at events for kids these days. How safe are they?
A: That depends on a lot of variables — the weather, whether they’ve been set up correctly and whether kids are being supervised while they’re playing inside, to name a few.
Accidents such as cuts, bruises, sprains and broken bones do happen. In 2018, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated there were more than 18,000 injuries associated with bounce houses that were treated in emergency rooms.
One hazard parents should be aware of is bounce houses that may not be secured to the ground properly. If it’s a windy day, a bounce house that isn’t secured right can be sent airborne with kids inside, the CPSC warned this month.
Here’s the agency’s advice for minimizing bounce house risks:
Don’t let kids in a bounce house on a windy day. The wind speed shouldn’t exceed 15-25 mph.
Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for bounce house set-up. It must be properly staked and anchored on a flat, even surface.
Never set up a bounce house near tree branches, power lines or fences.
Don’t ignore the occupancy limits.
If there’s more than one kid jumping around in a bounce house, the children should all be about the same size and age.
Parents should set rules for safer play that include no wrestling, tumbling or doing flips.
Don’t let kids near the gas generators or air pumps, especially if there’s standing water nearby.
Always provide adult supervision with bounce house use.
The American Academy of Pediatrics further advises:
Check with bounce house suppliers on their safety records and whether they’ve taken steps to avoid accidents. Also ask if the supplier’s inflatables are checked each year by a competent person and if the supplier can verify that.
Make sure to remove kids’ shoes, eyeglasses and jewelry, along with any sharp objects such as keys or pens, from their hands or pockets.
Don’t allow kids to take food, drinks or bottles into a bounce house.
Don’t permit kids to climb on the outside walls of the structure.