HONOLULU - Year-round sunshine, mild weather, and an outdoor activities
lifestyle in Hawaii have seen the popularity of inflatable "bounce
houses" skyrocket in recent years. This trend has occurred throughout
the United States, generating increased revenue for small business and
countless hours of fun for youngsters.
Unfortunately, that increased popularity has seen the incidence of childhood
injuries related to inflatable bounce houses also increase dramatically.
A recent study conducted at the Nationwide Children's Hospital in
Columbus, Ohio has found that the number of such injuries has increased
15-fold since 1995.
The inflatable structures function in much the same way as trampolines,
which for a long time have help the spotlight for recreational child injury
awareness. The recent study, however, has changed that and now inflatable
bounce houses are being looked at more carefully to develop injury prevention
awareness in the families that use them.
An average of 31 children are hospitalized each day in the U.S. due to
injuries sustained in bounce houses. The most common injuries are fractures,
followed by strains, sprains and concussions. Concussions are most often
caused by children colliding while playing.
And while falling in or out of the bounce house are the most common types
of injuries, improper deployment and/or supervision can also lead to injury.
A 2007 incident in Maili, HI saw two young children endangered when the
structure in which they were playing was picked up by high winds and tossed
50 yards offshore. Neither child was seriously injured, but it did cause
some to call for regulation of deployment of the structure. At the time
of the incident, there were up to 70 inflatable ride operators on Oahu.
To keep children safe while playing in inflatable rides, it is important
to follow a few important tips:
- Be sure that the inflatable ride is properly anchored to the ground in
the event of high winds.
- Inflatable mats should extend well beyond the opening of the ride, to provide
cushion for any child that bounced out of the ride.
- The ride should be supervised by a responsible adult at all times.
- Do not overcrowd the ride. Higher numbers of children playing increase
the chances for an injury.
- Operators should try to keep the size of the children playing fairly uniform,
to keep larger kids from crashing into smaller ones.
Inflatable bounce rides can provide hours of fun, but as with all children's
recreation structures, proper safety measures should always be taken.