Your Charleston child injury lawyers recently read an article that describes an incident involving large inflatable attractions, commonly referred to as “Jump Castles” or “Bounce Houses.” These toys are popular and fun for kids, but can create headaches for states in terms of how to classify these products and how to regulate their use. It has come to the attention of your experienced lawyers at Howell and Christmas that these inflatable attractions can be dangerous to children if they are not properly installed and anchored to the ground, or if they are not diligently supervised by an operator.
A 2005 Consumer Product Safety Commission report linked the popularity of inflatable amusement products with an increasing number of injuries being received at emergency rooms between 1997 and 2004. The Commission, in its report, was able to identify 1,300 injuries in 1997 and 4,900 injuries in 2004, this being the most recent data available.
Furthermore, the Commission warns that operators of these products should strictly follow the manufacturer’s requirements to securing and anchoring inflatables to the ground, as to prevent the inflatable from being blown away and causing serious injuries to children and/or parents. In addition, larger inflatables, such as slides, should have at least two operators keeping an eye on the attraction and its young users. The Commission strongly urges operators to pay special attention to weight limits, making sure they are not exceeded to prevent collapse of the attraction on users.
According to RideAccidents.com, a website that tracks amusement ride accidents, at least ten inflatable toy attractions have been toppled over by strong winds or have collapsed under exceeded weight limits in the last two months. These instances have caused over 40 people to be injured.
Earlier this month at a Long Island, New York youth soccer tournament, three of these large bouncy toys, including a two-story slide, went took off into the air after a heavy breeze picked them up from the ground and sent them into bystanders. The incident sent some parents and coaches rushing to the attractions with sharp objects and knives in an attempt to deflate the inflatables before they caused any more harm.
In total, 13 people were injured, including children, and were sent to local hospitals for treatment to minor bumps and bruises. But, one 36-year-old woman did not fare so well, she suffered a serious head injury as well as a severe spinal injury when the giant slide landed on top of her. According to a witness, she was walking on the track around the soccer fields when the slide struck her.
According to the rental company that supplied the inflatables, each was properly secured and was looked after by an operator. But, it doesn’t seem these products would be so easy to take off and fly into spectators and bystanders if they were properly installed and anchored, even on a blustery afternoon, says a spokesperson for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials.
As mentioned earlier, these incidents are not a rarity. In the last few years their have been several instances of serious injury and death involving large inflateable toys and attractions. Here are a few that occurred in the past couple years; an 11-year-old boy suffered bruises after a gust of wind tossed a slide about 70 yards at a church festival near Cincinnati, a Pennsylvania man was killed in June 2010 after an inflatable slide collapsed and pinned him at a Cleveland Indians game, a 5-year-old boy who was killed in March 2010 when he fell off an inflatable and landed on a concrete floor in Wichita, Kansas, and a 5-year-old girl had to be rescued after winds blew a bounce house into a pond during a birthday party in January 2010.