A child's death tragically reminds us of the hazards of these inflatables.
These days, it seems like nine out of 10 birthday parties has one: Those larger-than-life inflatable bouncies that kids (and sometimes adults) jump, leap, and tumble in. From a distance, these inflatables look like harmless fun. But for one 3-year-old, the bouncy castle recently became a deathtrap.
According to Seattle TV station KIRO, Jacob Pierce died over the past weekend when two adults accidentally fell on him in the bouncy. Pierce suffered traumatic head injuries and passed away before he made it to the hospital. The inflatable indoor playground where this happened did not have a proper state permit to be operating and was ordered to shut down on Monday.
When we heard this tragic and horrific story in the office, we began to talk about bouncy dangers. One Mom here says her son suffered a concussion after a 12-year-old head-butted her 3-year-old in a bouncy castle. Another Mom said her daughter suffered a broken nose. We called Jared Costanza, founder of RideAccidents.com, a Web site that tracks amusement park accident reports, to see how dangerous these bouncy castles really are.
"Inflatables may appear to be quite tame compared to mechanical amusement rides, but statistics show that they are just as capable of causing injury and death. Most parents would be shocked to know how many children have been injured or killed as a result of inflatable slides and bouncy castles." The Consumer Product Safety Commission said nationally, inflatable injuries increased from 1,300 in 1997 to 4,900 in 2005—an astonishing 300 percent increase in just seven years. Costanza posts reports of injuries here.
Bouncy castles are particularly dangerous on windy days, when blowovers and collapses can cause catastrophic accidents. Adults are also at higher risk of spinal injuries or even paralysis due to bouncy injuries—three women broke their necks in a bouncy in one year alone. But bouncy castles are not the only inflatables that pose danger. Many injuries and fatalities occur on inflatable slides and inflatable rock-climbing walls, as well. There have been many reports of children and young people falling from the 12-foot structures and crashing into the pavement below.
What can parents do?
Here are some safety tips courtesy of Saferparks.org.
• Watch the Weather: Avoid inflatables on windy days.
• Hire Professional Supervision: If you are renting an inflatable jumper, ask about the operator's experience, safety record, and training requirements. Make sure the jumper is set up by trained professionals who are familiar with the equipment. Spend the extra money to have a trained operator supervising the jumper at all times.
• Do your own safety check: Make sure the inflatable appears to be secured, and that the operator is attending to his/her job.
• Always have a parent on duty: Supervise children closely. Limit the number of children allowed in an inflatable jumper. Never allow older kids to jump with younger children.
|Costanza takes a more extreme stance: "Because this is not always enough to prevent accidents, and because accidents involving inflatables are relatively frequent and sometimes fatal, my advice to parents is to avoid inflatables altogether," he concludes.
Knowing this, we'll definitely think twice before allowing our kids to go in a bouncy again. What about you?