If you are like most parents nowadays, you look every year for something to make your child’s birthday party special. Pin the Tail on the Donkey gave way long ago to more adventurous activities like bounce houses that party rental companies set up in your backyard.
Kids think bounce houses are loads of fun, and parents assume they are safe until an accident injures or kills a child. Bounce house injury statistics prove that injuries increase each year.
Bounce Houses Harm Thousands of Children Annually
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that inflatables lead to more than 18,000 emergency room visits annually in the United States. Bounce houses (also known as moon bounces) cause the vast majority of injuries, but they are not the only type of inflatable amusement attraction available today. Slides, obstacle courses, climbing walls, and interactive inflatables (such as boxing or jousting) also contribute to injury statistics.
Bounce houses and related inflatables are available at many parties and events. They are popular attractions at school and church events, fairs, festivals, grand openings, and athletic competitions.
As their popularity has increased over the last decade, so have related injuries and fatalities. Children’s Health Orange County reports that from 2000 to 2004, nearly 5,600 children suffered injuries in bounce house accidents. From 2015 to 2019, more than 82,000 children suffered injuries an increase of over 1,300 percent.
Bounce House Injuries Frequently Make the News
Inflatable related injuries include concussions, neck injuries, broken bones, cuts, and bruises. By far, the most dangerous inflatables are bounce houses. Children between the ages of 3 and 11 suffer the largest number of injuries.
- On May 12, 2014, in South Glens Falls, N.Y., two boys, 5 and 6 years old, suffered serious injuries when they fell out of a privately owned 10-by-10 bouncy castle, according to CNN. Adults had staked the structure to the ground, but strong winds lifted it at least 50 feet in the air. One boy landed on a parked car, and the other fell to the asphalt. Medics airlifted the boys, who suffered head injuries and broken bones, to a nearby medical center.
- On May 31, 2014, a bounce house in Littleton, Colo., tumbled 300 feet across an athletic field during a lacrosse tournament, according to the Los Angeles Times. It was “like a bag in the wind,” according to one observer. Two 10-year-olds suffered injuries, one requiring hospitalization. This accident was similar to one in 2011 during a soccer tournament in Oceanside, N.Y., when 13 children suffered injuries in a bounce house, according to the Daily Times.
- In April 2017, Greenville News reported that five children suffered harm after a gust of wind carried a bounce house 30 feet off the ground and into a nearby power line. Party planners allegedly secured the bounce house to the ground, yet the children still suffered injuries and required emergency medical care. Another inflatable flew into the air and fell 20 to 30 feet with two children inside it.
Even worse are the fatalities caused by inflatable structures. According to the CPSC, 12 people lost their lives between 2003 and 2013 alone.
One recent fatal bounce house accident includes:
- In 2019, a nine-year-old girl passed away after the wind lifted a bounce house into the air and into a power line, according to People.
Bounce House Accidents Stem From Many Factors
What are the causes of inflatable injuries? They include environmental conditions (such as wind or rain), operator error (inattentive or untrained supervisors), equipment failure (such as worn cables, faulty patches, or sudden deflation due to blower failure), overcrowding, roughhousing, and mixing of age groups.
Who is responsible for the safety of bounce houses and other inflatable amusement devices? The CPSC regulates how companies produce them, but there is no federal oversight on how companies or consumers set up, maintain, or operate them. Each state decides, and the rules vary widely. In South Carolina, the Office of Elevators and Amusement Rides regulates and inspects amusement park rides but it does not regulate or inspect air supported structures.
How to Remain Safe While Using a Bounce House or Other Inflatable Structure?
So, how can you protect your children (and maybe even yourself) from injuries on or inside an inflatable?
- Avoid use during high winds.
- Make sure you place a tarp on the ground to protect the bottom of the unit.
- Check that the inflatable is moored to the ground using every anchor point provided, plus sandbags or weights.
- There should be no visible rips or tears.
- The unit should be fully inflated and not saggy.
- A responsible adult must supervise the inflatable at all times.
- Before enteringFa bounce house, people should remove their shoes, jewelry, eyeglasses, hair clips, and other sharp objects that may injure others.
- No one can eat, drink, or chew gum in the unit.
- No one can flip or roughhouse in the unit.
- Do not let children sit or lie down while others bounce.
- If winds pick up or you see rain or lightning, get everyone out of the inflatable and turn off the blower motor.
Did You or Your Child Suffer Injuries in a Bounce House? Speak With a Lawyer Today
If you or your child suffered harm in a bounce house, a lawyer near you can fight for compensation. Start by contacting a personal injury lawyer near you for a free, no-obligation case review.
Bert Louthian has been practicing law in Columbia with his father, Herb, since 1985. After receiving his Juris Doctorate from the University of South Carolina, Bert launched his legal career in his father’s firm. With 80 years of legal experience between them, Louthian Law, P.A. remains Family-Owned and Family-Focused.
Bert understands that when life goes wrong – when you or someone you love gets hurt or suffers a loss, it can feel like nothing will ever be right or fair again. He gets up and goes to work every day to prove that feeling wrong – and does everything in his power to make things right again.