What to know: Laying out bounce house rules

Kids come running the second they see one.  If you put up a bounce house, they're like moths drawn to a flame.  But once they start bouncing, anything can happen. 

Tracy Mehan, researcher with the Center for Injury Research and Policy in Ohio, says, "Parents really want to consider the risks before allowing their children in these inflatable bouncers."

Inflatables can pose a serious risk

You might think of them as child's play, but bounce houses and inflatables can pose a serious risk to your children's health. ABC2 News Investigators will detail just how often kids are getting hurt in a special report Thursday night at 11. Because of the staggering injury numbers tied to inflatables, experts say you've got to play bad cop and set tough rules.

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The risk of injury with inflatables is very real according to a national study released late last year.  The study, conducted by Mehan and other researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital, pointed to a huge spike in injuries.  Some believe many of those injuries can be prevented.

Paul Swisher owns Perry Hall Moonbounce.  He says the key to preventing injuries is establishing firm rules beforehand, "A lot of it really is common sense."

Swisher, who rents out inflatables for private parties, says it's important to gather kids together before any bouncing occurs.  He says laying out the rules is a key step, "The most important thing you've got to remember is safety.  You've got to have an adult that's responsible enough to control the kids."

Experts say having someone constantly monitor the kids is rule number for safe bouncing.  Mehan and Swisher agree that you should also separate the kids by age and size so little ones aren't bouncing with bigger kids.  Kids should be prohibited from flipping, wrestling or lying down inside the inflatable.

Swisher also says kids shouldn't take anything with them into the bounce house, indicating things like lollipops and eye glasses are a potential hazard.  He says you also need to keep an eye on the weather and shut down the bounce house if there's rain or strong winds. 

Watch ABC2 News Thursday 11 p.m. for an investigation into bounce house dangers.  We'll show you the huge spike in inflatable injuries that has some calling for national guidelines.  And we'll let you know why some bounce houses in Maryland are getting yearly inspections, while others get no oversight at all. 

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