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Inflatable Children's Bounce Houses Too Dangerous?

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The popularity of inflatable bounce houses and structures has boomed in recent years—so have injuries to children participating in the bounce parties, according to a recent article posted in The Tampa Bay Times . Emergency room statistics attribute injuries to 30 children in this country each day, including treatment for broken bones, sprains, concussions and cuts, from having fallen in or out of the bounce house or from having collided with other children while bouncing around the inflatable structures. More than one third of the injuries occurred to children age five or under.

The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, performed the study, which was published by the journal Pediatrics this week. Dr. Gary Smith, its lead author, noted surprise about the swift elevation in the number of injuries. While only 3 percent of the children’s injuries were broken bones, the injury statistics increased 15-fold since 1995 to almost 11,000 injuries a year occurring due to play in bounce houses. (Tampa Bay Times, 11/29/12) Inflatable bounce play houses are marketed to amusement parks, fairs and rented to individuals and groups.

Smith also noted that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) already recommends against allowing children under 6 years of age to use adult-sized trampolines, and that it made sense not to allow young children to play in "even smaller, home-use bounce houses." (Tampa Bay Times, 11/29/12) Accidents due to play in inflatable bounce houses have also caused deaths. Four fatalities to children occurred from 2003 to 2007.

Some manufacturers’ instructions recommend not overloading bounce houses with too many children and not allowing young children to bounce with older, heavier children or adults, according to a representative of the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials. In addition, recommendations have been made by groups which issue voluntary industry standards that bouncers be prohibited from doing flips and purposefully colliding with others… This kind of defeats the purpose of being a kid. Has our society gone too far, or is this a reasonable concern for parents?