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Bounce Houses: Fun Attraction or Inflatable Nightmare?

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Bounce houses are large inflatable plastic play areas designed to amuse small children. They can frequently be seen at birthday parties, local fairs, and other outdoor events. Although they appear to be all fun and games (and are invariably irresistible to youngsters), bounce houses can be extremely dangerous if not used properly.

Recent highly publicized incidents have sparked a debate over the safety of these elaborate devices. In New York, 13 people were hurt when three bounce houses lost their moorings in gusty, windy conditions. The inflatable structures were rendered airborne and tumbled to the ground, injuring the young occupants. In other cases, injury can occur when the bounce house becomes slippery, causing users to slide off. Overcrowded bounce houses and roughhousing can also lead to injury.

While the products themselves have numerous dangerous aspects, proper adult supervision is also crucial to a fun and safe experience. Young children should not be expected to understand the risks involved with these colorful and enticing attractions. Parents or other responsible adults should monitor the activity, and someone from the rental company should be on hand to ensure the apparatus is properly set up and the weather conditions are appropriate.