The next time you let your little one hop into a crowded bouncy castle crammed with tumbling tykes, think twice.
Use of inflatable bouncers, such as bounce houses and moonwalks, has increased in recent years – and, as a corollary, so have injuries in and around them.
A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics released this week found that from 1990 to 2010 more than 64,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency departments for inflatable bouncer-related injuries. And the rate of those injuries as been significantly on the rise: from 2008 to 2010, the number of inflatable bouncer-related injuries more than doubled to an average of 31 children injured per day.
"The rapid growth in bouncer-related injuries and their shared characteristics with trampoline injuries call for guidelines for safer bouncer usage," the study's authors conclude. More than one-third of injured children in this study were younger than 6, which, the authors note, is the minimum recommended age for bouncy house usage.
"In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed its recommendation against any home or other recreational usage of trampolines and recommended use only as part of a structured training program with appropriate safety measures employed. Policy makers must consider whether the similarities observed in bouncer-related injuries warrant a similar response."
Researchers found that, perhaps as expected, fractures and strains or sprains of the arms or legs were the most common types of injury, and falls were a common cause of injury, with stunts and collisions also contributing to the injury rate. The study, “Pediatric Inflatable Bouncer-Related Injuries in the United States, 1990-2010,” can be found in the December 2012 issue of Pediatrics.
The Child Injury Prevention Alliance released the following guidelines for safe inflatable bouncer usage:
- Limit bouncer use to children 6 years of age and older.
- Only allow a bouncer to be used when an adult trained on safe bouncer use is present.
- The safest way to use a bouncer is to have only one child on it at a time.
- If more than one child will be on the bouncer at the same time, make sure that the children are about the same age and size (weight).
- Take off shoes, eyeglasses and jewelry and remove all sharp objects from your pockets before entering the bouncer.
- No rough play, tumbling, wrestling or flips.
- Stay away from the entrance or exit and the sides or walls of the bouncer while you are inside of it.
- If the bouncer begins to lose air, stop play and carefully exit the bouncer.
Has your child ever been injured in a bounce house? Let us know your experience in the comments.