Bounce houses may be fun, but injuries inside them are soaring, study says

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 28 2012 9:40 a.m. MST

Kids play in a "bounce house" during the Days of '47 Children's Festival at Washington Square, following the children's parade July 18, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Keith Johnson, Deseret News archives

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Little people may not be the only thing going up in that party favorite, the bounce house. A study in the journal Pediatrics says that injuries are soaring in them as well.

As many as 30 children are injured a day while playing in an inflatable bounce house, the most common injuries being broken bones, sprains, cuts and concussions. Injuries occur when children fall down or out of the play area, or as they collide with other bouncers.

The rate of injury has increased 15-fold since 1995 and doubled since 2008, partly due to the increased popularity of the inflatable playgrounds. They are popular at theme parks but are also sometimes rented or purchased for home use.

"I was surprised by the number, especially by the rapid increase in the number of injuries," one of the researchers, Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told Associated Press.

According to the research, few of the children were injured seriously enough to require hospitalization. Most suffered broken bones.

To come up with numbers, the researchers looked at emergency room data from across the country, courtesy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. They found that 30 kids are treated each day in America. The 11,000 injuries documented in 2010 come out to about one every 46 minutes.

About one-third of those hurt were 5 and younger.

The reason for the rise in bounce house injuries is unclear, according to ABC News, but besides increased popularity, researchers said changes in design might be to blame. ABC reported that in June 2011, strong winds picked up three bounce houses at a youth soccer tournament in Oceanside, N.Y., resulting in injuries to 13 kids.

Manufacturer's recommendations include not overloading the houses with too many kids and not allowing young children to bounce with older, heavier kids, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials told AP.

"Bounce house injuries are similar to those linked with trampolines and the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against using trampolines at home," AP noted.

The study's authors wrote that "this increase, along with similarities to trampoline-related injuries, underscores the need for guidelines for safer bouncer usage and improvements in bouncer design to prevent these injuries among children."

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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