I remember my parents joking, when my brother had his 200th stitch at age 10, that he should be housed in a bubble. Apparently, today's children are not even safe when ensconced in air. So says the latest "health emergency" of hazardously rising bounce house injuries.
According to the NEISS, an organization that collects information on injuries caused by consumer products, bounce house-related injuries increased 1500% from 1995-2010. Can anyone out there think of a single bounce house before 1995, or at least one that wasn't part of a major kids amusement chain? Methinks the giant increase comes with the increase in privately owned bounce houses. Anyone can buy one for $100 and throw it down in the basement so their kids can bounce their hearts out (and their arms apart) while parents take a breather.
The statistic that one kid gets injured every 45 minutes sounds alarming, but so is the fact that over 9,500 kids (under age 14) per day seek medical treatment for sports-related injuries. Of 65,000 bounce house injuries in 20 years, 55% of them were between 2005-2010. Again, I think this comes with the boom of personal inventory of houses, along with the increased use of them at every little kid party (how many parties have you seen that adhere to the recommended ONE child jumping at a time?) and the increase in production, sometimes by lesser-quality manufacturers (we've all seen little kids get caught in deep air pockets and weird netting).
But really, calling bounce house injuries an epidemic seems a bit neurotic, much like everything else about American child rearing. Did you know that much of Europe has zip lines included in their playgrounds? My local playground touts a sign that it's legally intended for 6-12 year olds, when in fact my five year old is bored with its giant plastic safety zones.
As in much of life, the problem seems to be the user. Kids are going to be crazy in a bounce house, and adults must communicate rules, stand by to help, and deal with mishaps as they happen. Passing through life without a scrape or bump is unrealistic. I'm not so sure that any legislation is going to help with bounce house injuries. Bounce houses are air mattresses with walls. People are thinking beings with brains and personal will.
You can legislate anything. You can't take away personal responsibility. Otherwise, we're all living --and playing -- in a bubble.
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