Beware the bounce house

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: October 5th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

What kid doesn’t love to bounce? Bounce houses, those giant, colorful inflatable amusements, have become a staple at children’s birthday parties and festivals. But medical experts say you may want to think twice before allowing your child to play in one. Numerous concerns have been raised about the safety of these oversized balloons.

First, there’s always the concern of broken bones, concussions or head and neck injuries from a child accidentally falling out or colliding with another tot. In this respect, bounce houses are similar to trampolines, which the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using at parks or at homes and schools. In fact, the AAP recommends trampolines should only be used in gymnastic or diving programs with an expert trained in trampoline safety present.

Next, there are fears about bounce houses that aren’t properly installed. In June of 2011, a bounce house in Long Island, New York went sailing when it was picked up by a gust of wind. The youngsters on board only suffered bumps and bruises, but a mother was critically injured when the inflatable crash-landed on her. Other similar incidents have occurred in Arizona and California. The problem: Rental companies drop off the inflatables at a party with little or no instruction.

Finally, the Center for Environmental Health warns that high levels of lead have been found in bounce houses. Vinyl, the shiny plastic used to make the houses, can be made with lead, which stabilizes the bright colors.

What should a concerned parent do? If you allow your child to participate, make sure the other children are around the same size and age. Keep a careful eye on doors and openings in the house. And always have children wash their hands thoroughly afterward.