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Inflatable bounce houses can be dangerous

30 children a day are treated in emergency rooms for broken bones, sprains, cuts and concussions

  • AP
  • Published: 13:43 November 26, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • In this Sept. 11, 2005 file photo, children play in a bounce house in Vidor, Texas. A nationwide study released Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, found inflatable bounce houses can be dangerous and the number of kids injured in related accidents has soared 15-fold in recent years.

Chicago: They may be a big hit at kids’ birthday parties, but inflatable bounce houses can be dangerous, with the number of injuries soaring in recent years, a nationwide study found.

Kids often crowd into bounce houses, and jumping up and down can send other children flying into the air, too.

The numbers suggest 30 US children a day are treated in emergency rooms for broken bones, sprains, cuts and concussions from bounce house accidents. Most involve children falling inside or out of the inflated playthings, and many children get hurt when they collide with other bouncing kids.

The number of children aged 17 and younger who got emergency-room treatment for bounce house injuries has climbed along with the popularity of bounce houses — from fewer than 1,000 in 1995 to nearly 11,000 in 2010. That’s a 15-fold increase, and a doubling just since 2008.

“I was surprised by the number, especially by the rapid increase in the number of injuries,” said lead author Dr Gary Smith, director of the Centre for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Amusement parks and fairs have bounce houses, and the playthings can also be rented or purchased for home use.

Smith and colleagues analysed national surveillance data on ER treatment for nonfatal injuries linked with bounce houses, maintained by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Their study was published online on Monday in the journal Paediatrics.

Only about 3 per cent of children were hospitalized, mostly for broken bones.

More than one-third of the injuries were in children aged 5 and younger. The safety commission recommends against letting children younger than 6 use full-size trampolines, and Smith said barring kids that young from even smaller, home use bounce houses would make sense.

“There is no evidence that the size or location of an inflatable bouncer affects the injury risk,” he said.

Other recommendations, often listed in manufacturers’ instruction pamphlets, include not overloading bounce houses with too many kids and not allowing young children to bounce with much older, heavier kids or adults, said Laura Woodburn, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials.

The study didn’t include deaths, but some accidents are fatal. Separate data from the product safety commission show four bounce house deaths from 2003 to 2007, all involving children striking their heads on a hard surface.

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