A new study published today in the journal Pediatrics shows that injuries to children associated with inflatable bounce houses has risen dramatically over the past fifteen years. According to researchers, bouncy castle-related injuries that were treated in U.S. emergency departments increased 15-fold from 2005 to 2010. In 2010, more than 30 children per day (one every 45 minutes) were treated for bouncy castle injuries.
The majority of the injuries, 43%, were caused by falls. 28% of the injuries were broken bones, and 27% were strains or sprains. However, 19% of the injuries were to the head and neck. The study's authors say this demonstrates the danger of bouncy castles.
"The findings from this study show that there has been an alarming increase in the number of injuries from inflatable bouncers," said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "It is time for us to take action to prevent these injuries. Ensuring that parents are aware of the potential risks, improving surveillance of the injuries, developing national safety guidelines and improving bouncer design are the first steps."
Smith and his colleagues point out that the injury pattern for bouncy castles is similar to that of trampolines, which already have national safety guidelines.
"The medical and public health community has yet to provide recommendations on the safe use of inflatable bouncers," said Smith. "The growing epidemic of inflatable bouncer injuries make it clear that it is time to do so."
The study's authors suggest that parents consider the risks of bouncy castles before allowing their children to use them. If parents do allow their children to use bouncy castles, the recommendation is that only children 6 years and older be allowed on them, one at a time, and that an adult be present for supervision. Also, if more than one child is to be allowed on such an apparatus, the authors suggest that the children be of approximately the same age and size.
It's worth mentioning that the increase in injuries does not necessarily mean that bouncy castles are becoming more dangerous. The increase could simply point to an increased popularity of the attractions, with no accompanying safety regulations or recommendations. 44% of the injuries cited in the study occurred in a recreational setting, such as a fair, and 38% occurred at home.