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Inflatable bounce houses: not all they are blown up to be

Not all products that can cause harm are obviously dangerous to the consumer. In some situations, a product can become dangerous if used incorrectly or if the consumer is not warned of potential hazards. One particular item, intended to be a source of fun and games for children, can actually become a dangerous product and lead to serious injuries.

You see them at birthday parties, carnivals, and even county fairs; children love playing and bouncing around in them. It is the bounce house: an inflatable giant house that kids can jump in and not worry about getting too hurt. But what happens when a bounce house collapses or flips over?

Though this type of scenario may seem less than likely, officials in the amusement ride industry say that these types of accidents are more common than many think. And when a bounce house causes injuries, they are often severe and sometimes even fatal. A little girl was killed after a bounce house broke loose and blew away.

Other injuries have included serious head injuries from falling off bounce houses and near drowning when a bounce house blew away and landed in the ocean. Other instances have involved a number of children being trapped in a bounce house when it deflated or detached from the cables securing it to the ground.

While customers are given safety instructions that can help minimize the risk of an accident, there are other factors that contribute to moon bounce incidents. If the moon bounce is not installed properly or if there is an operator error, problems can rise up.

But an even bigger concern revolves around the industry regulations that oversee this type of product. Many states, including Florida, do not mandate that businesses operate safely - such as requiring adequate training - when catering to children. But this lack of regulation could mean that these types of injuries will only grow in number.

According to the CPSC, more than 31,000 individuals sustained injuries due to inflatable rides over a period of four years. A large percentage of those individuals were children under the age of 15.

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel online, "Bounce houses: Fun, yes, but dangerous, too," Nicole Brochu, 10 June 2011

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