Owning an inflatable bounce house can provide your family with months of afternoon fun year after year. Unfortunately, these bounce houses can also be an extreme safety hazard if they are not used properly. In 2014, three children were injured, two seriously, because their bounce house was taken up into the air by a gust of wind with them inside it.
One boy fell 15 feet to the ground. Another fell 10 feet and landed on a parked vehicle. Then the bounce house floated even higher into the sky, reaching an estimated height of 50 feet.
To avoid adventures in the bounce house that involve more than your child’s imagination, here are some helpful tips to help lower the risks of your family experiencing an incident of your own.
- Most commercial bounce houses are not actually meant to be outdoors. Although most manufacturers do provide stakes for their bounce houses, the warnings on the boxes or in the owner’s manuals state that they are not supposed to be used outdoors. If outdoor use is required, then purchase 40-inch steel stakes to keep the bounce house secured and supervise it at all times when children are using it.
- Do not use a bounce house (or any other inflatable) during high wind conditions. Once wind speeds reach 25mph, then it is not suitable to be using a bounce house. Many professional companies will shut down their inflatables once wind speeds reach a consistent 15mph. Although that can be disappointing to those who are using the inflatables, the risks of continued use aren’t worth it.
- Watch for spacing between the ground and the bottom of the bounce house. A bounce house only needs 2 inches of clearance from the ground for the wind to affect its performance. A bounce house of any size in any wind speed conditions is at a danger of toppling over or being picked up into the air when it loses contact with the ground.
- Avoid using other toys inside the bounce house. In the United States, an average of 31 children were injured and treated in hospital emergency rooms from statistics published in the December 2012 issue of Pediatrics. Most of those injuries were not wind-related. Avoiding injury while using a bounce house means not using other toys while inside the inflatable, limiting the number of children or adults on it at the same time, and entering/exiting the inflatable properly.
- Make sure your bounce house is properly anchored. Metal stakes can be a good anchor, but there are other options available as well for pavement or indoor installations. Sandbags and water barrels are effective at keeping most bounce houses stable while in use.
The best bounce houses for backyard use are very affordable today. Some even include water slides and separate ball pits. Make sure to properly setup your bounce house and use it only during safe weather conditions to avoid having an adventure that you may not forget for the wrong reasons.