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Inflatable Attractions Come Out for Summer, Many People Not Aware of Risks

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South Glens Falls, NYWhen it comes to thrill-seeking and risk-taking, most people assume the risks of theme park accidents are highest on roller coasters. To be fair, many news reports of the most traumatic injuries regarding amusement park accidents tend to focus on roller coasters and other thrill rides. But inflatable attractions, such as bouncy houses, may actually result in a high number of injuries, too, and those injuries may happen because people think there are no risks associated with inflatable rides.

In one instance of a bouncy house causing serious injuries, a bouncy house in South Glens Falls came loose from its stakes and flew up to 20 feet above the ground. Three children were reportedly in the bouncy house when it became airborne. According to USA Today (5/14/14), a 10-year-old girl was thrown from the house and suffered minor injuries, but one boy fell onto a parked car and another boy fell into the street. Both boys suffered serious injuries.

Bouncy houses are not known for being particularly dangerous, but according to reports, they come with some risks, including a risk of becoming airborne. USA Today (7/6/11) reported on an accident at a youth soccer tournament in 2011 in which three inflatable attractions flew off the ground, with 13 people injured, including a mother who had one of the inflatables land on her, resulting in head and spinal injuries.

In the same article, USA Today noted that in two months alone, at least 10 inflatables across the US were either taken out by wind or collapsed under too much weight. Those incidents resulted in injuries to 40 people. Jim Barber, a spokesperson for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials referred to inflatable attractions as “probably the most dangerous amusement devices they have.”

The issue, according to Barber, is that people believe the attractions are easy to use and require little supervision, so they are often simply dropped off at a site and picked up later, not actually rented with an operator. Adults on site might not realize there are weight limits to the attractions or that they have to be properly anchored down.

In 2010, a man at a Cleveland Indians game was pinned when an inflatable slide collapsed on him. He died days later from his injuries.

More recently, researchers at Ryerson University in Canada found that more children suffer injuries on inflatable attractions than on roller coasters. According to researchers, of hospital ER injury reports linked to amusement rides gathered by the US National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), 42 percent of injuries were linked to inflatable attractions whereas 20 percent were linked to roller coasters.


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