Doctors warn about bounce house dangers

HOUSTON - From indoor play places to backyard birthday parties, bounce houses have become a popular attraction for kids. But the trend has some doctors concerned.

Some doctors are now calling the injuries from children playing in bounce houses an epidemic. Local 2 consumer expert Amy Davis checked with hospitals to understand what doctors are seeing and checked with the Department of Insurance, which oversees bounce house safety in Texas.

"Each day in this country, more than 30 children are rushed to a hospital emergency department for an injury associated with an inflatable bouncer. That's a child about every 45 minutes," said Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Smith helped lead the first national study of injuries associated with inflatable bouncers. His research found that between 1990 and 2010, nearly 65,000 children were treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries. A quarter of the injuries involved broken bones. Since 1995, injuries have shot up 15-fold, and continue to rise.

Cassie Stapleton broke her arm going down a bounce house slide with her dad.

"There's two bones in your forearm. She had broken both of them," said Preston Stapleton, Cassie's father.

While fractures like Cassie's, along with strains and sprains, are the common type of injury, one in five children suffered a head or neck injury. Falls were the most common cause of injury, followed by stunts and collisions.

The Texas Department of Insurance requires bounce house operators to have the equipment inspected by a certified engineer once a year. It also requires those companies to carry liability insurance. Look for an inspection sticker.

You can also check with the Department of Insurance to make sure the company you hire is in compliance.

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