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UPDATE: Ohio bounce house laws more stringent

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Ohio has more stringent rules regarding bounce houses compared to other states, according to owners of Bellefontaine’s Belle Bounce rental company.

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Local youths bounce inside a bounce house during a block party on Court Avenue on June 16. The popular activity has come under scrutiny by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. (EXAMINER FILE PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)

“In Ohio, you have to be licensed and insured to rent bounce houses and the same guys (Ohio Department of Agriculture inspectors) who inspect us inspect Kings Island and Cedar Point,” Mike Joseph said.

Read a related article, "Study: Bounce houses a party hit but kids' injuries soar," below

“Some states have no rules at all. You don’t see bounce houses blowing across the interstate in Ohio like happened in Arizona.”

Unlike other states, bounce house rental companies are required to follow certain rules before turning renters loose.

Some of those include setting up a bounce house with proper stakes or sandbags and instructing adult supervisors on the safe use of the apparatus, Mr. Joseph said. Bounce houses also cannot be set up when winds exceed 15 mph.

“A bounce house should always be supervised, for the commercial ones in Ohio that’s required,” he said.

He also said there is a list of dos and don’ts renters are made aware of, such as no flipping, no candy, no jewelry among others.

Problems still can exist with smaller units or units rented from companies that are not certified to rent the bounce houses.

“Most of those (problems) are with the ones people own at home; they aren’t the commercial ones,” Mr. Joseph said. “Knock on wood, we’ve never had anything more serious than kids bumping their heads together, but if they have one at home or rent a rental and get no training, problems can arise.”

And there are inherent risks as with any other sporting activity.

“In any kind of sport, a rollercoaster or anything, there is a risk,” Mr. Joseph said. “As it’s children, it’s the adult supervisor who should make sure it is being used safely.

“We want kids to have fun, but we have to do it safely.”


Study: Bounce houses a party hit but kids’ injuries soar

By LINDSEY TANNER
AP Medical Writer

CHICAGO (AP) — They may be a big hit at kids’ birthday parties, but inflatable bounce houses can be dangerous, with the number of injuries soaring in recent years, a nationwide study found.

Kids often crowd into bounce houses, and jumping up and down can send other children flying into the air, too.

The numbers suggest 30 U.S. children a day are treated in emergency rooms for broken bones, sprains, cuts and concussions from bounce house accidents. Most involve children falling inside or out of the inflated playthings, and many children get hurt when they collide with other bouncing kids.

The number of children aged 17 and younger who got emergency-room treatment for bounce house injuries has climbed along with the popularity of bounce houses — from fewer than 1,000 in 1995 to nearly 11,000 in 2010. That’s a 15-fold increase, and a doubling just since 2008.

“I was surprised by the number, especially by the rapid increase in the number of injuries,” said lead author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Amusement parks and fairs have bounce houses, and the playthings can also be rented or purchased for home use.

Smith and colleagues analyzed national surveillance data on ER treatment for nonfatal injuries linked with bounce houses, maintained by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Their study was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Only about 3 percent of children were hospitalized, mostly for broken bones.  

More than one-third of the injuries were in children aged 5 and younger.  The safety commission recommends against letting children younger than 6 use full-size trampolines, and Smith said barring kids that young from even smaller, home-use bounce houses would make sense.

“There is no evidence that the size or location of an inflatable bouncer affects the injury risk,” he said.

Other recommendations, often listed in manufacturers’ instruction pamphlets, include not overloading bounce houses with too many kids and not allowing young children to bounce with much older, heavier kids or adults, said Laura Woodburn, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials.

The study didn’t include deaths, but some accidents are fatal. Separate data from the product safety commission show four bounce house deaths from 2003 to 2007, all involving children striking their heads on a hard surface.

Several nonfatal accidents occurred last year when bounce houses collapsed or were lifted by high winds.

A group that issues voluntary industry standards says bounce houses should be supervised by trained operators and recommends that bouncers be prohibited from doing flips and purposefully colliding with others, the study authors noted.

Bounce house injuries are similar to those linked with trampolines, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against using trampolines at home. Policymakers should consider whether bounce houses warrant similar precautions, the authors said.

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Online:

Pediatrics: http://www.pediatrics.org

Trade group: http://www.naarso.com

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AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner

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