Injuries in jumping balloons skyrocket

Researchers found 1 in 5 injuries were to head, neck

CHICAGO, Illinois - A new study says injuries from the use of a kids' party attraction have skyrocketed along with the popularity of inflatable bounce houses.
The study in the journal Pediatrics suggests 30 U.S. children a day are treated in emergency rooms for various injuries from minor to broken bones and concussions. Most injuries involve children falling inside or out of the inflated playthings, or colliding with other bouncing kids. Bounce house injuries are similar to those linked with trampolines.
The number of children aged 17 and younger who got emergency-room treatment for bounce house injuries has climbed from fewer than 1,000 in 1995 to nearly 11,000 in 2010.

While the use of jumping balloons has also increased dramatically, researchers were troubled by the severity of injuries, and how they happened. More than half of them (55 percent) were fractures, strains or sprains. But one in five of the injuries were to the head or neck.

Nearly half, or 43 percent, of the children were injured after falling either inside or out of the jumping balloon.

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

Businesses in Texas that rent out jumping balloons for parties or other events are self-regulated, but must report to the state Department of Insurance.

The DOI requires that the rental businesses keep insurance and conduct annual inspections. The representative for the DOI told ABC-7 that the businesses are self-regulated due to the high number of businesses of that nature that exist in the state.

While researching a special report in 2009, ABC-7 cross-checked the DOI's list of businesses that have updated insurance and inspections on file, with jumping balloon rental businesses in the El Paso phone book's yellow pages. None of the 45 businesses in the phone book were in compliance.

ABC-7 sent the DOI the list of businesses that were out of compliance with state regulations. Department spokesman Jerry Hagins told ABC-7 that after receiving the list, it sent out packets to the businesses informing the business owners how to come into compliance.

The DOI received responses from two businesses, and planned on sending out more packets in following months.

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