You may have heard about the recent bounce house accident in upstate New York. High winds blew the bounce house off the ground and into the air. Three children, inside at the time, were injured. The accident comes as many families are planning to use bounce houses at graduation parties or other summer celebrations. It's a good time to review the safety guidelines that will help protect your family and friends.
The bounce house accident was a big topic of social media chatter for the owner of Acme Partyworks in Novi.
"I've had at least five or six people either personally messaging me pr putting it on my Facebook wall saying 'Did you hear this? Did you hear this? Oh, my gosh look at what happened!' And showed me pictures of that bouncer in the air," said Dan Millar, Vice-President of Acme Partyworks.
Television reports from New York say it was a Little Tikes brand bounce house that blew away, not a rented commercial product. While witnesses say it was staked to the ground, Millar points out the size and quality of those stakes can vary. He showed Ruth to the Rescue the commercial-sized stakes that were three or four feet long and had to be hammered into the ground. Other stakes can be about half-a-foot long and some are even made of plastic.
Watching Wind is Critical to Bounce House Safety
Another key to bounce house safety is keeping an eye on the weather. Wind has been blamed for accidents before, including an accident in Long Island, New York in 2011. In that case, three bounce houses blew off the ground at a soccer tournament. Thirteen people were injured.
"The biggest misconception here is that you can have the sunniest day, the biggest problem is the wind. So, someone may think bad weather means rain and it actually is the wind," said Dan Millar, Vice-President at Acme Partyworks in Novi.
When using a bounce house, parents must also stay informed about any changes in weather conditions. "You have to go look at the internet, you have to go look at the TV, look at the news and see what it’s going to be. If the winds are over 15 miles an hour, turn the blower off, get the kids out!" warned
Other Safety Concerns
Wind hazards aren't the only concerns when it comes to bounce house safety, a 2012 study warned of the potential dangers that have resulted in injuries to children. In the Journal Pediatrics, researchers said more than 30 children are taken to emergency rooms each day with an injury associated with an inflatable bouncer.
At the time, the the association that represents the inflatable bouncer industry said its products are safe and if parents follow the instructions and supervise children at all times.
"You watch the wind and supervise it. If you take anything away, those are two major things that will prevent 99% of the things that will happen" Dan Millar told Ruth to the Rescue.
1) Always make sure the bounce house is properly secured to the ground.
2) Check the size and quality of the stakes used to secure the bounce house. If you can pull the stakes out with your bare hands, that could be a problem if strong winds strike.
3) If a professional puts stakes in the ground do not remove them for any reason, until you're done using the bounce house.
4) Always supervise the children (and adults) using the bounce house.
5) Do not let too many people in the bounce house at the same time.
6) Avoid letting different age groups mix inside the bounce house. When larger children bounce with small children, the smaller children could be at risk.
7) Know the weather forecast and keep an eye on changing weather conditions.
8) If winds start to exceed 15 miles an hour, get the children out of the bounce house until its safe to continue.
9) Always read the safety rules posted in the instructions, on the bounce house, or in the rental contract.
10) If you have any questions, ask a professional to get the best safety information.