The Dangers of Bounce Houses

By Sherry Baker  @SherryNewsViews
May 16, 2017
The Dangers of Bounce Houses

Moonwalks and similar inflated bounce houses are loads of fun for kids — but are bounce house safe? Here’s what every parent should know.

If you have kids, the odds are you know what a bounce house is. Also called moonwalks and inflatable amusements, bounce houses are often rented for birthday parties and frequently found at carnivals, neighborhood festivals, and other events. These large, inflated play structures are typically designed to look like a storybook house, castle, or a giant toy, but their main appeal is floors that bounce.

Of course, a trampoline-like floor is difficult to walk on but perfect for little ones to jump, hop, and flop on while laughing with delight. Some inflatable play structures have narrow tunnels and slides, too. This all sounds like loads of fun for children and it usually is — until it’s not.


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Are bounce houses safe?

News reports have covered a few rare but horrific examples of bounce houses outdoors swept into the air or turned over by strong winds. In one case, a bounce house rose 300 feet in the air, injuring several people. A gust of wind lifted another bounce house, causing the structure to tumble across a park. Two children trapped inside had to be hospitalized.

Four-year-old Deacon Rambaud was playing near a bounce house when he was pulled under it and trapped in the structure’s matting. Thankfully, his father saw what happened and rushed to rescue his son before the boy suffocated.

While such incidents are few and far between, more common kinds of bounce house accidents happen in the U.S. every year. The number of injuries has increased over the past decades, most likely because there are more bounce houses.

A study found that more than 60 percent of bounce house injuries involve fractures, muscle strains, and sprains. Boys are slightly more likely to be hurt in the play structures than girls.

University of Georgia (UGA) researchers have found another, previously unrecognized danger inside inflatable play structure — soaring temperatures.

"I knew it was a problem when I watched my child in one on a particularly hot day and our early findings confirmed my suspicions," said researcher James Marshall Shepherd, PhD, UGA professor of geography and atmospheric sciences. “Hopefully it makes parents more aware of something they probably overlooked.”

The research team conducted experiments with a bounce house on the UGA campus with weather conditions representative of a typical summer day. Five hours of measurements found temperatures inside the play structure were consistently higher than outside, climbing between four and seven degrees to reach a temperature of over 100 F.


Bounce houses create an environment that locks heat inside them, not unlike cars parked with windows rolled up.

 “Heat illnesses like heat stroke can be deadly and occur in children participating in sports, left alone in parked cars and, as our study shows, potentially when playing in bounce houses," said Andrew Grundstein, PhD, UGA professor of geography and co-author of the study. "Signs there is a problem may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and flushed, moist skin."

Some children are especially susceptible to over-heating, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. For example, youngsters who have recently had gastrointestinal distress (vomiting, diarrhea) or fever may be dehydrated to begin with. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and hyperthyroidism also increase the risk of heat exhaustion and stroke.

The potential danger of bounce houses doesn’t mean kids can never play in them. That said, parents should make sure an adult trained in bounce house safety is present and, if several kids are in the structure at a time, all should be about the same age and weight, according to the Child Injury Prevention Alliance.


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May 24, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN