Youth Sports End of Season Celebrations: Entertainment Mainstay Presents Increasing Liability
9 Aug, 2017By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Avoiding Injuries at the Season’s End: What Event Organizers Need to Know About Inflatables
We’re in the season of late-summer parties to close out youth swim teams, sports camps, rec programs, softball, baseball and more, just before the back-to-school rush starts. It’s the time for cookouts and family fun, and one of the time-honored traditions is of course, a moon bounce.
It’s those seemingly innocuous structures that are increasingly drawing fire from pediatricians who say organizers of such events absolutely need to think twice before putting them in. Want the facts? Read on.
According to an article in The Washington Post, many structures are rented by event organizers, inflated with an electric pump according to directions and then used to occupy kids. With, apparently, disastrous results.
That’s right – you can have an injury-free sports season only to have kids get hurt at the season-ending party and being unable to play in fall sports.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says 82,203 people were injured on inflatables between 2008 and 2013, more than 90 percent of those on moon bounces. (That number represents ER visits and doesn’t include scrapes and bruises dealt with at home.) And the rate of injuries has been growing over time, perhaps because moon bounces, also called bounce houses, are more common than ever, with even backyard versions available. Two-thirds of the injuries are to legs and arms. Fifteen percent involve heads and faces. The CPSC also knows of a dozen deaths involving moon bounces between 2003 and 2013.
A study published in the journal, Pediatrics, reported that in 2010, a child got hurt on a moon bounce every 46 minutes. Among the scarier accidents: children slamming their heads together and getting concussions, broken noses, skull fractures and more, and those who landed on their heads or necks while trying to do somersaults – with catastrophic results. Unsecured bounce houses can also tip or flip, causing injury to those inside, and those who are trapped underneath.
Note to event organizers: Check with your insurance provider to see whether you will need any additional coverage prior to renting a moon bounce. You may also need to make parents aware if you plan to provide such a structure.
"Many special event insurance policies exclude coverage for inflatable amusement devices, such as moon bounces, inflatable slides, inflatable obstacle courses, etc. so it’s very important for organizers to understand that their insurance may not cover inflatables," Lorena Hatfield of K & K Insurance tells SDM.
Many rental companies have developed rules and safety guidelines; here is a sample. And while the safest tactic of all might be to have only one child in the bounce house at a time, it’s a rare party that will follow this directive. The most important tactic of all, experts note, is adult supervision.
That was the ultimate lesson learned by the woman who wrote the Washington Post article after her child needed facial surgery following a collision with another child while on a moon bounce.
“At the party where my daughter was injured, at first we adults were vigilant about making sure there weren’t too many kids on the moon bounce at once. But as time went by, we relaxed — too much, apparently,” she wrote.