Bounce houses can liven up any child’s party, but they can also cause it to go south fast if someone gets hurt.
As bounce houses have gotten more popular, injuries have also gotten more common. According to one estimate, there were more than 20,000 such injuries in 2016. In 2003, that number was just over 5,000.
Any parent who overlooks bounce house safety is risking their child’s health. Read on for four items that should be on your bounce house safety checklist.
Watch the Wind
The most dramatic bounce house accidents occur when the wind carries a bounce house away with people inside it.
In 2019, five Washington State teens got hurt after wind lifted a bounce house 15 or 20 feet in the air, then carried it almost 250 feet down a football field.
Experts say it’s up to adults to pay attention to wind speeds in their area. If your phone has a weather app, you should be able to check wind speeds that way.
Also pay attention to sudden gusts of wind. One big gust is all it takes to turn jumping castles into flying castles.
Wind speeds of 20 mph or higher make bounce houses unsafe. If anything about the wind feels unpredictable or otherwise dangerous, it’s best to shut things down.
Secure It Properly
If you rent a bounce house, you should make sure that the person who delivers it also helps set it up. Be wary of any company that drops it off in your backyard and then leaves.
A rental company operator should use stakes or weights to secure the bounce house. Stakes should also be metal, not plastic.
Talk to rental companies about their safety measures before you sign a contract. If you have any doubts, go somewhere else.
Set An Age Minimum
Your three-year-old may love the idea of jumping inside a bouncy princess castle. But children under age 5 or 6 have a higher risk of getting hurt in such structures.
That means bounce houses are a better idea for an 8th birthday party than a 5th birthday party. Younger kids have less body control, which makes them more vulnerable to getting hurt.
It’s also a bad idea to let smalls play with bigger kids. If your 6-year-old wants to play but there are 12-year-olds inside the house already, tell your child they’ll have to wait a bit.
Check Local Regulations
In the United States, there’s no national board that regulates bounce houses. It’s generally left up to states, and some states are a lot more strict than others.
What if you’re outside of the U.S? In that case, you can expect even more variance. A company like Australian Inflatables will have slightly different bounce house rules than a company in Canada.
If you can check safety records in your area, do so. If you can’t, ask each company about its history.
Keeping Bounce Houses Safe
Bounce houses also have a how-to guide printed on the side. If you read that text, you’ll find information like the overall weight limit for the bounce house.
As a parent, one of the best things you can do is supervise the children’s bounce house at all times. If there are kids anywhere near it, there should be at least one adult keeping an eye on things.
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