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Wind presents hazards for many bounce houses

By Sandra Yi | Posted - Jun. 6, 2011 at 4:45 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Windy days can make for a dangerous situation when it comes to a popular kids attraction.

That was evident this weekend in Long Island, New York, when the wind picked up several bounce houses with children inside them.

Cell phone video captured the terrifying images as strong winds whipped around three bounce houses on a soccer field.

13 people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Bounce house accidents
- Send an average of 6,000 people to the emergency room every year
- Most of those injured are aged 5-14
- The most frequent injury is broken bones

- Consumer Product Safety Commission

"I couldn't believe it. It was like something out of a movie. Kids were being knocked over and there were just kids lying everywhere," said Marianna Rhatigan, whose children were injured in the bounce houses."

There were three other incidents involving inflatables in Arizona this year.

"Wind and inflatables do not go together," said Rory MacLennan, who owns Jump Town Inflatables in Utah County. "Safety is number one, so you gotta make sure it's going to be anchored down properly."

At Jump Town Inflatables, MacLennan uses 18 inch, curved spikes to anchor his inflatables, which range from water slides to obstacle courses. Occasionally, he doubles them up for more security.

Grass allows for the most secure set up, he said. If using an inflatable on asphalt, he'll use sandbags.

Utah doesn't regulate the use of inflatables; they are left to the operator, who will typically follow manufacturer's guidelines.

Wind and inflatables do not go together. Safety is number one, so you gotta make sure it's going to be anchored down properly.

–Rory MacLennan

The manufacturer of one water slide MacLennan owns warns against use when winds exceed 20 miles an hour, which is why he will turn down business on windy days.

"Safety is the biggest issue in this," he said. "I wouldn't do it if it was an unsafe industry."

It is a popular industry.

On Monday, students at Highland Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City played on two inflatables set up at their school. Strong winds didn't appear to affect them.

One parent at the school said her kids have played in bounce houses before and they've never had a problem. But the Long Island incident shows, freak accidents can happen.

Police in Long Island say the bounce houses were weighted down with sandbags; they say it was a terrible accident and will not pursue charges.



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