Chances are that you have bounced in an inflatable castle or other similar device at some point in your childhood. Maybe it was at a school carnival or a state fair. Maybe it was at a fancy birthday party.
Recent research into inflatable amusement rides has some wondering whether the “toys” are safe enough for use. There has been an increase in serious injuries related to bounce rides over the past several years, including a Pennsylvania accident that ended in death for one victim last year.
According to The Associated Press, The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that between 1997 and 2004, the rate of bounce device injuries has more than tripled. Sources attribute the number of accidents to a lack of effective safety regulations in each state.
Many of the inflatable device injuries occur due to wind. If the bouncy house that someone is using isn’t anchored to the ground properly, that is when the device is picked up and thrown by the wind, too often with children inside.
It’s not only the jumpers who wind up injured. People nearby the inflatables have been injured or killed when a device blows away and crashes into them. Last week in New York, one woman suffered a head and spinal cord injury when she was hit by an inflatable ride.
The solution to the dangers of inflatable amusement rides? Though money is always a limitation, safety advocates believe that states need to put stricter standards in place regarding safe use of the devices. Also, someone who is knowledgeable about a bounce device should be part of the ride rental. They should operate the ride and be held responsible to set it up and run it safely.
No one likes to take away from the much-needed fun that we all need in our lives. However, fun and safety can and should coexist. Injuries or death are not worth the five minutes that your child wants to spend jumping inside a bouncy castle. If you have any doubt whether a ride is safe, don’t hesitate to ask questions and skip it if your doubts can’t be cleared.
The Associated Press: “NY accident illuminates perils of ‘bounce houses,'” Frank Eltman, 7 Jun. 2011