The idea of being able to climb into a gigantic inflatable replica of a castle or Scooby Doo or the Batcave is irresistible to most little kids, but before you remind them to remove their shoes or to watch out for the two-year-old sitting in the corner, you may want to rethink letting your kid climb into a bounce house to begin with. Kids are getting injured constantly in these things, and even though they seem like a great way for kids to work off excess energy or pretend to be the next Gabby Douglas, many times it ends up with a not-so-fun-filled trip to the emergency room. From WebMd.com:

The number of kids sent to emergency rooms after being hurt on blow-up bouncy castles or houses jumped sharply from 1995 to 2010.

And the annual rate doubled between 2008 and 2010, according to research inPediatrics.

A child in the U.S. is sent to the ER after being injured in a blow-up bouncy castle or house every 46 minutes.

“If this was an infectious disease that was increasing at this rate, there would be headlines across the country. But because it is an injury, it is often overlooked,” says study researcher Gary Smith, MD, DrPH. He is the director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

But there are things that parents can do to help make these bouncers safe, including setting age and other limits.

“We can use bouncers more safely, ask national groups to come up with guidelines, and turn to manufacturers and say, ‘What can you do to help us?’” Smith says. “If we all work together, it will be more fruitful than prohibition.”

Jinkies! Every forty-six minutes? And the articles states that these statistics are just based on accidents serious enough to warrant an emergency room visit. My daughter loves these types of bouncers. So what am I supposed to do the next time she encounters one?

Prevention is key, says Jose Rosa-Olivares, MD. He is the medical director of the Pediatric Care Center at Miami Children’s Hospital in Florida. He routinely counsels families on some of the risks associated with bouncy castles and jumpers.

“If there is the opportunity to redirect the child to a different activity, do that first,” he says. “If parents decide it’s safe to use these, try to avoid bouncers with a lot of kids jumping at the same time.”

Oh great, now I have to hope there is another activity my kid can be distracted with. So I can only take her to places that have bouncy castles and either giant pens filled with hundreds of kittens to pet or swimming pools filled with ice cream and sprinkles. Or free Barbie doll mountains. Bouncy castle injuries don’t sound like a lot of fun, so the next time I plan on being somewhere a bouncy house is present, not only will I make sure my kid is wearing clean socks, I’m going to bring with her helmet and shin guards too.

(photo:rosesmith /shutterstock)