Emergency room doctors have been treating children with injuries sustained in bounce houses for years now, but visits are becoming more frequent, Time reports.
Several incidents have made national headlines recently: In May, two children in New York were blown 15 feet in the air before tumbling out of a bounce house; one of the kindergartners remains hospitalized. A similar incident took place in Colorado over the weekend, with two children being blown across a field after the bounce house they were playing in was picked up by a gust of wind.
Annually, 11,000 injuries from bounce houses are reported. "If this were a disease, it would be considered an epidemic," says Tracy Mehan, a health educator with the Child Injury Prevention Alliance. A 2012 study in Pediatrics found that there was a 15-fold increase in bounce house injuries from 1995 to 2010, at which point an average of 31 children were seeking treatment at an ER each day. The average patient was 7 and had either fractured or sprained an arm or leg, usually by falling into another child inside the inflatable funhouse.
Experts say injuries are on the rise for a number of reasons, including the fact that bounce houses are sold in stores, giving more people access to what was once a relatively hard-to-find product. Most states do not have strict guidelines for bounce house use, Time reports, so the Child Injury Prevention Alliance suggests that only children over the age of 6 be allowed inside bounce houses, with only one jumper in at a time.