Free-Range Kids

Despite the Recent News, Bounce Houses Are Very Safe—If Set Up Properly

I'd suggest granting "Gold Bouncy Star" ratings for houses secured with particularly long, particularly strong spikes.


Mary Katherine Wynn / Dreamstime

Another bounce house has taken to the sky—unfortunately, a 9-year-old boy was in it. He dropped onto the highway and, I am thrilled to say, seems to have sustained only minor injuries. According to NBC:

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that the boy fell out of the bounce house after it rolled onto Highway 395 and struck a car. The child suffered minor injuries.

The driver was not hurt but was "shook up from the ordeal," the sheriff's department said.

I'd be shook up if a house landed in front of me, too. But does this mean bounce houses are inherently dangerous and should be grounded by the government?

I say no. Instead, perhaps the people who set them up should be a bit more careful.

In a bouncy house accident in 2014, two boys were seriously injured. Back then, NBC reported:

Police said the man who owned the toy had used spikes to secure it to the ground. The six plastic spikes, each about 6 inches long, were found near the apartment complex, the Post-Star reported.

Six six-inch spikes sound kind of like the bare minimum you would use with a pup tent.

A Consumer Product Safety Commission study of the 13 deaths caused by bouncy houses from 2003 to 2013 found that "the incidents staff reviewed were attributable primarily to improper operation, supervision, and set up."

Thirteen deaths over a decade is, of course, 1.3 deaths a year. Compare that to 3 child death per day as passengers in cars. And yet we have not prohibited parents from driving their kids to the dentist.

Nonetheless, fewer and fewer folks are going to let their kids bound into a bouncy house if all they can picture is the house floating over the trees with their screaming kids trapped inside.

So if I were running the industry, I'd suggest granting "Gold Bouncy Star" ratings for houses secured with particularly long, particularly strong spikes. The more spikes, the more stars. And my guess is that the market for these super safe castles would, you should excuse the expression, soar. While the market for bouncy homes with dinky little spikes barely tapped into the turf would find itself, rightfully, deflated.