Bouncy Castles Are Giant Inflatable Death Traps Of Doom

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

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)

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  • LiteBrite

    My son LOVES bouncy houses. Sorry Jose Rosa-Olivares, MD, if my kid sees a bouncy house within 50 feet of him, he is NOT going to be redirected.

    • Eve Vawter

      Redirecting kids is so hard :( We would need giant piles of baby ducks and candy :(

  • Michelle

    To be fair, a lot of parents send their kids to the ER for very minor ortho. injuries. I’m an athletic trainer for a high school and I’ll have kids that have a grade one ankle sprain over the weekend and bring in a slip from the ER. If they only counted major injuries I would take this article and doctor a little more seriously.

    • Justme

      I coach middle school and I would MUCH rather my athletes go to the high school trainer for an injury rather than the ER or their orthopedic specialist. Because if you go to an ortho for a grade one ankle sprain then you will be in a walking boot with crutches for six weeks.

    • Michelle

      Welcome to my life ;) I just sigh and say you know I’m free right?

    • Justme

      And it doesn’t help that I coach in a very upper middle class area where every child is a budding Michael Jordan on a very elite travel team with their own personal trainer and orthopedic specialist on speed dial. Do you know how many times I’ve heard “Um…my trainer told me I shouldn’t do that type of stretch.”


  • Katie Calvin De Hesa

    most of the ‘injuries’ ive ever seen in a bounce house ((and we do LOTS of bounce houses)) are from kids pushing other kids into each other.. thats not the bounce house problem, its a kid problem. if there are more kids in a bounce house than are supposed to be in it, then you take your chances or get your kid out BEFORE you need to have them checked for concussion. common sense people, common sense.

  • Liz

    Wow… I’m SO glad I grew up in the 90′s so that I actually got to have a childhood. Keep kids from bouncy castles? Are you freaking kidding me? This generation will grow up wrapped in bubble wrap carted around in giant jugs of bleach a la the Mitchell and Webb Cleanlinoll sketch! Children fall. Children get bumps, bruises, even broken bones. Ask any kid whether having a childhood where they were allowed to go on a freaking bouncy castle at the fair was worth some scrapes, and I CHALLENGE you to find a child who says no. I feel sorry for your kids…

  • Concern mom

    Is not only the injuries, my daughter almost suffocated on one of those things, the power went out and the bouncy deflated and she couldnt get out, it took about 3 minutes to get her out of there, thank God she was in an area where there was a mesh, if not it would have being a different story. Is a horrible experience so parents be aware of just the head bumps and bruses, these things can actually kill a child if trapped in the right or shoudl I say wrong spot.

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