You are automatically labeled "best mom ever" when you rent an inflatable bounce house for your child’s birthday party. Your toddler or preschooler doesn’t need to know that you’d do just about anything to keep all 15 of his favorite friends outside, where they can’t tear up the house. You may even be tempted to take a bounce or two yourself after the kids go to bed. However, as much fun as inflatable jumpers are, be careful: They can also pose significant danger to small children.
You watched the rental company stake the bounce house to the ground and never considered that it may not be secure. However, one serious gust of wind can rip an inflatable from the ground. According to Consumer Reports, an Ohio boy was lifted nearly 40 feet in the air when the wind blew an inflatable slide. Poorly secured inflatable bounce houses can also flip over and roll in the wind, posing a risk of injury to tots and parents both inside and out.
In an inflatable bounce house, you might not worry about your kiddos falling -- after all, no one will get hurt falling on a cushion of air, right? However, children and adults have been seriously injured or killed as a result of falls inside bounce houses. For example, children can be seriously hurt when they land incorrectly while attempting to do flips and somersaults or when another jumper lands on them.
Children are at risk of suffocation when inflatable bounce houses lose air. This can happen if the fan that keeps the structure filled stops working, is unplugged or is accidentally pulled out of the structure. When inflatable structures collapse, the heavy material and lack of air can lead to suffocation or injury when children or adults topple over on one another.
If these safety risks have you feeling deflated, there are some common-sense steps you can take to help your toddler or preschooler bounce without fear. Supervise your child closely when she is bouncing. Never allow children to play unsupervised, regardless of age. Make sure the bounce house is anchored to the ground securely. Do not allow children to play around the cord that connects the fan to the structure, and do not allow big kids or adults to bounce with small children. Warn your children against fancy flips and maneuvers that could hurt them. Finally, never use an inflatable jumper in any sort of inclement weather, including on a very windy day.