Inflatable Amusements Can Cause Injuries

Inflatable amusements like bounce houses and slides can provide a lot of fun for children. However, they can also lead to injuries when they aren’t properly set up or supervised.

More than 30 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms daily for fractures, sprains or other injuries they received in an inflatable bounce house, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics. This is equivalent to one child getting injured every 46 minutes. 

You can prevent many of these injuries by following manufacturers’ guidelines for set-up, operation, and supervision. Before renting an inflatable for your next youth or community event, take steps to ensure the safety of your participants.

Planning the Event

Pre-event planning is an important part of inflatable safety. Follow these tips to help your organization hold a fun, safe event. 

  • Contact your insurance agent to discuss your ministry’s liability exposure.
  • Rent your equipment from a reputable company that employs people who are experienced and trained in operating inflatables.
  • Arrange for the rental company’s staff to set up and operate the equipment, whenever possible.
  • Get written instructions on how to safely use the equipment.
  • Ask an attorney to review the rental contract before you sign it.
  • Have the company give you written proof of a current liability insurance policy. This insurance covers the rental company’s liability—not yours—in the event of an injury.

Setting Up Inflatables

Inflatables are heavy, bulky, and awkward to move. To secure them properly, they must be anchored to the ground, possibly with additional sandbags for weight. Pay attention to the following details, which can affect a unit’s safety.

When setting up inflatables, ensure:

  • There are no high winds. 
  • A tarp is placed on the ground to protect the bottom of the unit. If no tarp is available, clear all debris from the area where the bounce house will be placed.
  • The unit is placed on flat, dry ground, away from trees.
  • The inflatable object is moored to the ground using every anchor point provided, plus the recommended amount of sandbags or weights.
  • Impact-absorbing mats cover the hard surfaces to the open side(s) of the equipment, unless spotters will be supervising these openings.
  • No rips or tears are visible when the unit is inflated.
  • The unit fully inflates and isn’t sagging.
  • The operator covers all operating and safety procedures, both verbally and in writing, including weight and occupancy limits.

During the Event

Good supervision is essential for making sure all inflatable users stay safe. These tips will help you ensure that the event is as much fun as you had planned.

  • A responsible adult must supervise the inflatable attraction at all times. 
  • Before being allowed to enter an inflatable unit, people should remove shoes, jewelry, eyeglasses, hair clips, and other sharp objects that may injure others.
  • Prohibit food, drink, or gum in the unit.
  • Separate children of different ages and abilities, so that larger children don’t accidentally hurt the smaller ones.
  • Don’t allow people to perform flips or engage in rough play inside a bounce house. 
  • Don’t let children sit or lie down while others are bouncing around them.
  • Remove children from a bounce house once they tire.
  • If an inflatable unit deflates, remove occupants immediately.
  • If winds start affecting the structure, or if you see rain, lightning, or any other unsafe condition, get everyone out of the inflatable, then turn off the blower motor until conditions improve.