It wouldn’t be a kids’ party without a bounce castle! Every adult remembers how exciting it was as a child to kick off their shoes and crawl into the big balloon house at a festival or in a lucky classmate’s backyard. One thing children never think about while bouncing away into oblivion is whether these massive contraptions are safe. Are bounce castles harmless forts built for carefree play, or are they hazards just begging for an accident to strike?
As it turns out, bounce houses can be safe, but it depends more on the setup and operation of the bounce house, rather than the structure itself. Just like trampolines, bounce houses have been associated with a series of reported accidents in recent years, and many of the accidents are caused by faulty setup and operation.
One main reason for accidents to occur in a bounce castle is due to faulting anchoring. It is all too common for poor anchoring and heavy winds to allow the castles to become airborne, or even collapsing.
While there are many types of bounce houses with different installation guidelines that specify things like weight limits and anchoring techniques, common principles are universal. Use common sense to make sure that houses are properly anchored (such as testing the anchor yourself, visually inspecting, etc), and ask questions of your bounce house provider. If they are experienced, they will likely have plenty of good answers for you.
Also ask when the last time they bounce house was inspected, how old it is, etc. Poorly installed or maintained bounce castles are a perfect recipe for sprains, fractures, and concussions.
There are other precautions you can take to help ensure your child’s safety. Some tips include keeping the bounce castle away from fences, buildings, or trees; making sure all the children in the bounce castle are age six or older, and have removed their shoes, eyeglasses, and jewelry; making sure no food, drinks, or toys are brought into the bounce castle; and supervising your child in the bounce castle at all times.
If you wish to take extra precautions to ensure your child’s safety but you do not own the bounce castle in question, there are still measures you can take to limit the involved risk. For example, consider asking the supplier to see records of incidents that occurred in the past and what steps were taken to prevent those accidents from being repeated in the future. Also, check to see if the bounce castle supplier has their set checked regularly by a competent institution or person. Accountability is key.
Bounce castles are designed for fun, and they can certainly breathe new and exciting life into a festival, amusement park, or even a backyard. But that is only true if the bounce castle is safely installed and when the risk of accidents and injuries remains low.
To keep the bounce castle experience fun for your children and stress-free for you as a parent, go the extra mile to make sure a bounce castle is safe before use.