Things More Dangerous than Nuclear Power: Bounce Houses

As a wee lad, my parents never threw extravagant birthday parties for me like you see on [insert TV show here]. Don’t get me wrong, I had some damn fine birthday parties, but never the kind with a bounce house or shmancy stuff like that.

Speaking of bounce houses, perhaps I should thank my parents for never renting one for a party (love you, ma!).

My childhood in a picture. Just kidding.

You see, bounce houses can be dangerous. More dangerous than nuclear power. This comprehensive report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission outlines the number of deaths-by-bounce-house over the ten year period of 2003 to 2013. According to this report:

There were an estimated 113,272 emergency department-treated injuries associated with inflatable amusements in the years 2003–2013.
There were 12 deaths reported to CPSC involving inflatable amusements that occurred in the years 2003–2013.

Check out page 10 of the report for the sad but interesting stories regarding the fatalities. Here’s a teaser:

…four deadly incidents linked to moon bounce-style inflatables were associated with head and neck injuries (2), suffocation (1), and drowning (1).

Given the fact that bounce houses have contributed to the deaths of more people in a ten year period than commercial nuclear power has in the United States since its inception in 1957, perhaps bounce houses should be regulated like a nuclear power plant.

Numerous environmental studies should take place to ensure that the bounce house is sited appropriately and doesn’t disturb the migratory patterns of wildlife. This should only take a decade or so. Before issuing this license, there will need to be a lengthy public comment and involvement period, so your neighbors can offer their expert advice on the construction, operation, and potential risks of the bouncy house. Next, all parts of the bounce house will need to undergo strict nuclear-grade quality control. This may mean that that a $200 air pump may end up costing $20,000, but at least we know that we’ve mitigated some risk! Then, for further ease of mind, a government bureaucrat should sit nearby and monitor things to ensure that the bounce house is being operated in a safe manner. From siting to operation, their services will only cost $265 per hour.

And then to salt the wound — I mean, um, make it better — let’s have advocacy groups try to rid the world of the Bounce House Menace (BHM) as they proudly state that we don’t even need bounce houses because they’re not economically viable anyway… While ignoring all the above regulations that made it so costly. Because reasons.

Back to reality: The risk of a bouncy death is quite low, even though a greater risk than nuclear power. Regardless, if you have children, I implore you to sign your kid up for a nuclear power plant tour for their birthday instead of getting them a bouncy house. It is safer.

Think of the children!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Idaho National Laboratory or of any agency of the U.S. government.

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