Party Jumpers Pose Danger To Kids

Inflatable Injuries Increasing Steadily

Inflatable jumpers are great fun for the kids, but are they safe?

They are becoming increasingly popular and on any weekend you can see them in parks, on playgrounds and in back yards.

Kids slide, ride and jump on these air-filled toys, but they can be dangerous.

High school student Jordon Ballard knows this firsthand.

She was having a great time at a party when she had a real scare.

"I landed about the same time as another kid, landed hurt, (and) the next thing I knew, I couldn't move," Ballard said.

Ballard wasn't seriously hurt, but the high school cheerleader still suffers from her inflatable misfortune.

"When I catch a girl wrong it hurts in the same spot -- it flares up," Ballard said.

Ballard's inflatable injury is not isolated. In fact, it's part of a widespread and growing problem.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says nationally, inflatable injuries have increased from 1,300 in 1997 to 4,300 in 2003 -- an astonishing 300 percent increase in just six years.

Mike Beck owns an inflatable company, paying close attention to safe setup and equipment.

Beck said newer designs keep kids safer, but nothing replaces adult supervision.

"When I go out to get the inflatable, I find kids doing all kinds of things I tell clients not to do," Beck said.

"Adult supervision ... nothing replaces it. Without supervision, you're looking for an accident to happen," said Cheri Fidler, of Children's Hospital.

Fidler said Children's Hospital provides parents with the latest information on inflatable entertainment. Their concern is that any child is susceptible.

If you're renting an inflatable, make sure it's in good condition and insured by the operator.

Here are Inflatable Playground Tips from www.saferparks.org, a consumer protection group:

  • Pay attention to the weather
  • Avoid inflatables on windy days
  • Make sure the inflatable appears to be secured, and that the operator is attending to his or her job
  • Supervise children closely
  • Limit the number of children allowed in an inflatable jumper
  • Never allow older kids to jump with younger children
  • If you are renting an inflatable jumper, ask about the operator's experience, safety record and training requirements
  • Make sure the jumper is set up by trained professionals who are familiar with the equipment
  • Spend the extra money to have a trained operator supervising the jumper at all times

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