PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – You may want to think twice before you let your kids take a turn in a bouncy house.
The federal government says injuries on these inflatable rides are on the rise.
The rides are very popular, including the kind you buy and set up in the backyard to the big inflatables at major events.
When 5-year-old Matthew Branham climbed onto a huge inflatable ride, his mother had no idea just how dangerous they could be.
“We assumed he would come right back down like all the other kids did,” Sarah Ruggiero said.
Instead of a safe bounce, Matthew was thrown off the ride and landed head first on the ground.
“I just knelt by him and I was praying for God to do a miracle because I knew the outcome wasn’t good,” Ruggiero said.
Matthew died hours later at the hospital.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says inflatable ride accidents are on the rise and it should be a wakeup call for parents.
The number of injuries has increased from roughly 5,000 in 2003 to more than 17,000 in 2013 — a total of 100,000 injuries during that 10-year span.
“We will see extremity fractures, wrist fractures sometimes leg fractures and a lot of bumps and bruises,” says Dr. Barbara Gaines, Director of Trauma and Injury Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
A study done by the Center for Injury Research and Policy found 30 children a day are injured on inflatable rides – about one child every 45 minutes. Researchers called their findings alarming.
“Fun is great to have, but the danger of it is very real,” says Daniel Frankel.
Frankel and his family run ELF Entertainment, one of the largest inflatable ride companies in Pittsburgh.
Frankel said there are do’s and don’ts when setting up and using a bounce house. The most important thing to do is make sure the inflatable is anchored to the ground with stakes, or the sand bags that are clipped to the inflatable ride.
Extension cords for the rides should also be tied in a knot for safety.
“This way, if you have somebody, kids running and accidentally trip and pull on the cord it prevents the cord from being disconnected,” Frankel said.
Another tip: Blowers for the inflatables should have license plates that match the inflatable ride.
“Every inflatable in Pennsylvania has a license plate and a blower is designated for a specific inflatable,” Frankel said.
Always have an adult supervising the jumpers.
“People get very brave and think they can do a backflip. But, if you are there to make sure that doesn’t happen, you will hopefully prevent an injury,” Frankel said.
And shut down a ride if it starts to rain or if winds are over 15 miles per hour.
Younger children should not bounce at the same time as older children either.
The CPSC is working with ASTM International, a voluntary standards organization, to beef up safety standards for inflatables.
Pennsylvania has some of the strictest rules for inflatable rides in the country.
If you want check out a company that is renting inflatables, view inflatable records for the state of PA by clicking here.
That is a public website. Consumers may look up a company by their ID or a specific attraction by the ride ID.