An accident that happened last week in upstate New York when an inflatable "bounce house" apparently blew off its safety stakes and flew up to 20 feet in the air with children still inside has bounce house manufacturers and parents alike thinking more carefully about the safety of the houses, particularly small ones that are privately owned and operated.
According to news reports, two children were seriously injured in the May 13 accident: a 5- and a 6-year-old boy were carried as far as 15 to 20 feet into the air before they fell out of the house, and were both sent to Albany Medical Center. The 5-year-old boy was subsequently put into a medically induced coma to treat the serious head injuries he sustained when he landing on a parked car. The 6-year-old broke both arms, jaw, and eye socket, and ruptured his spleen when he landed in a parking lot.
The Weather Channel reports that despite repeated mentions of a "violent" wind gust that caused the accident, there were no discernible gusts on the day of the accident:
"Winds were light at the Glens Falls reporting station at the reported time of the incident," said Stu Ostro, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel. Ostro says winds were only between 5 and 10 mph.
Police tell weather.com that the bounce house was rather small — not the professional-sized ones you'd see at fairs and amusement parks.
The bounce house manufacturer, Little Tikes, said they would investigate the cause of the incident, NBC News reports.
"Providing safe and wholesome play experiences is of utmost importance to Little Tikes. We are looking into what happened in South Glen Falls Monday," Jennifer Campana, Director PR & Social Media, MGA Entertainment, the parent company of Little Tikes, told NBC News. "In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with the children and their families."
A study published in 2012 by the Nationwide Children's Hospital found as many as 30 kids a day were treated in emergency rooms for injuries associated with inflatable bouncers.
Just last week, Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky, banned bouncers on school property, WAVE-TV reports.