What kid doesn’t love a bouncy castle? If we’re being honest, lots of adults I know would probably take a turn in one if it were big enough. They promote exercise, being outdoors and help your kids burn off energy, which can be especially productive when it comes to bedtime routines later that night. So, what could be so bad about playing in a bouncy play set? As it turns out, a lot.
Commercial Bouncy Castle Risks
They can be found everywhere and their popularity is growing, which is one reason for higher accident statistics related to bouncy play set injuries. In larger play sets (for example, ones that you might rent for a large party or found at a county fair as opposed to home sets), there is an inherent risk of roughhousing that can lead to injury. Children are already excited to be in one, and it’s not likely that your warning to approach a bouncy castle with caution is going to be heeded. Broken bones, most commonly arms and ankles, twisted joints, sprains, bumps and bruises are the most common form of accidents reported from these types of play sets. A reported 30 children per day are typically sent to the emergency room across the country as a result of bouncy castle injuries.
Personal Play Sets
These are typically the more dangerous type, and it might not be for reasons you’d assume. In addition to all of the injuries associated with larger play sets, personal play sets come with the added danger of strong winds untethering them from the ground and gusting them up into the sky – with children inside. This has happened several times over the last few years – sometimes the play sets get as high as 30 feet before the wind dies down and they come crashing back down to earth. Oftentimes, children have fallen out before the castle landed, causing major injuries.
Set Some Limits
While your children may really want one, it’s probably best to avoid purchasing a personal bouncy play set. If that’s not an option, look for one that has an open top. This will help avoid allowing the wind to carry it off of the ground. Also, when tethering it, avoid staking it into soft ground – these can easily come undone. Instead, try tying it down to a permanent structure.
If your children want to play in a larger bouncy set, establish limits. No more than three or four kids at a time, letting kids within the same age group go together, and time limits are all good starting points.
And remember: If your child does get injured in a bouncy play set, it’s best to go to a doctor if you have any questions at all about the injury. Kids are pretty durable, but a break on a growth plate can cause a lot of trouble down the line for them.
Dr. Jakeen Johnson is a board-certified pediatrician who cares for her patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Kingwood Clinic. Her areas of clinical interests include childhood obesity, nutrition, asthma and allergies.