Strong winds in Adelanto, California, last Saturday afternoon sent an inflatable bounce house soaring onto a busy highway — with a nine-year-old child still inside.
That’s according to a local NIXLE advisory from the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Department.
Police noted that the boy fell out of the inflatable after it rolled onto Highway 395 and collided with a vehicle.
The boy suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. The driver, although “shook up,” was uninjured, the advisory noted.
The bounce house with the child inside traveled from the 18200 block of Delicious Avenue to an area near Highway 395 and Bartlett Avenue, a distance of a quarter of a mile or so, NBC News reported.
The bounce house was part of a Mother’s Day celebration held in the San Bernardino County residential neighborhood. Several children attended the party, and the boy trapped inside the flyaway bounce house was a neighbor, NBC News’ Adrianna Weingold reported.
Rented “moon bounces” and similar inflatables are a popular presence at summertime children’s parties. The enticing attractions, alas, are far from risk-free. Terrifying viral videos showing the heavy plastic attractions soaring into the air, only to smash into trees or power lines, are enough to scare some parents away.
Children can be badly injured and some have even lost their lives in accidents involving inflatable bouncers. The inflatables can blow away, even with children inside, given enough wind; bystanders can also be injured. Properly securing them with stakes and/or sandbags can reduce the likelihood; but there are other issues, too.
The attractions carry a suffocation risk if they deflate, as the plastic is extremely heavy. Minor bumps and bruises are fairly common as children jumping together inside can easily collide.
A study by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital offered some sobering figures. Data from 2010 show that more than 30 children a day — about one every 45 minutes — are treated in emergency rooms for injuries associated with inflatable bouncers.
The attractions also carry a suffocation risk if they deflate.
Safety regulations for inflatables vary state by state. Some of the toughest are in New Jersey, USA Today reported, but other states’ regulations and related enforcement are disturbingly lax. Some states, including Texas, even lack the authority to fine violators or take them to court.
California currently has no specific regulations on inflatable rental businesses, Bounce Houses Now indicates. The State of California’s Portable Amusement Ride Inspection Guide, 2016 edition, is published by the Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety & Health Amusement Ride Section. The guide notes that permits are not needed for inflatable devices or bounce houses.
Experts recommend caution and encourage parents to ensure children are following the standard safety rules for use — that is, one child in the inflatable at a time; all shoes, jewelry, and loose items removed, etc. When renting an inflatable, parents and guardians should follow all the guidelines for proper installation. In addition, the inflatables should be placed far away from trees, power lines, walls, roadways, and other hazards.
Bounce houses aren’t the only high fliers in Adelanto. The southern California town made headlines again last week when the FBI raided the mayor’s home, city hall, and a local medical cannabis dispensary as part of an investigation into marijuana industry-related corruption in the town.
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.