At block parties, street festivals, fairs, barbecues, and almost any event where large numbers of kids are in attendance, the inflatable – or “bounce house” or “moonwalk” as some call it — has become as much of a staple as juice boxes and balloons. But, as recent stories in the news make clear, these sources of fun and laughter can also lead to serious injuries.
In the past few weeks alone, bounce houses which have become untethered from their moorings have led to injuries and at least one death of a child. On Memorial Day in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, three children were injured after a tornado launched the bounce house they were inside into the air. Weeks later, in China, a gust of wind sent a bounce house into the air, and a child inside fell out and later died.
4,000 ER Visits a Year
Sadly, these are not isolated incidents. Last year also saw multiple reports of similar accidents where inadequately secured inflatables were swept up in gusts of wind injuring children inside. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 4,000 emergency room visits a year in the United States are linked to inflatables. A 2013 study published in the journal Pediatrics reported that the number of bounce house injuries among children nationwide increased fifteenfold from 1995 to 2010.
Reasons for Injuries
There are a number of factors that can lead to inflatable-related injuries, including:
- Adverse weather conditions
- Lack of or inadequate adult supervision
- Mixing of age groups (older or larger children, or adults, inside with small children)
- Equipment problems, such as underinflation, rips or tears, or worn cables
- Failure to properly secure the inflatable
Adding to the problem is the fact that in Connecticut, as in many other states, bounce houses or other inflatables leased for private residential use are not subject to regulation or inspection.
When injuries occur in bounce houses as a result of improper supervision or because the inflatable was improperly secured or otherwise set up in an inadequate manner, both the operator of the inflatable and the owner of the property on which the inflatable was set up could be responsible for damages. If the house itself was defective, the manufacturer could be held liable.
How You Can Keep Your Kids Safe
The Child Injury Prevention Alliance recommends that parents considering renting a bounce house or inflatable look for trained operators who hold insurance, avoid mixing age groups of jumpers, and not allow more children inside the bounce house than recommended. They suggest that only children over 6 be allowed on a bouncer and that, ideally, only one child should use it at a time.
Inflatables can be safe and provide kids with a lot of fun when set up and used properly. Parents should make sure that the appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent a fun day from taking a bad turn.
James “Jim” Nugent: Helping Connecticut Families Deal With Injuries to Children
If your child has been seriously injured or killed in a tragic incident, it is important that you speak with a Connecticut personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with the unique issues and challenges involved in handling child injury cases. There are time limits as to when such claims must be filed, so reach out to an attorney as soon after the incident as you can. Call us today at (203) 795-1111 for a free consultation.