BRANDON, Fla - A fun day playing in a bounce house turned dangerous for children, again.
On Saturday, two children were injured in Colorado when a gust of wind began blowing their bounce house away. It traveled about a 100 yards before stopping on a lacrosse field.
"There is not a kid in there is there?" screamed a panicked woman.
This is the second time in less than a month that children have been injured in a bounce house accident.
In mid-May, two kindergartners fell out of their inflatable play set in upstate New York when a gust of wind sent it soaring 50 feet into the air. One of the children fell out from 15 feet and landed on a car.
Both accidents have highlighted bounce house safety, especially when it comes to the residential grade houses parents can go to the store and buy.
"They're flimsy," said Luis Canino, owner and operator of Big Lou's Bouncies in Brandon . "They are typically made out of fabric that covers a thin layer of vinyl plastic underneath."
Canino does not discourage parents from buying bounce houses. He simply wants parents to know that if they decide to do so, they can do certain things to make the bounce house safer.
"Replace the stakes first thing," Canino said.
Canino said residential bounce houses typically come with six inch stakes that are either metal or sometimes plastic. He does not think they will anchor the bounce house well.
His company uses 18 inch stakes that are as thick as rebar.
You can also buy sandbags to anchor the house. Canino suggests two sandbags per corner, each weighing 50 pounds.
"You want about 400 pounds," Canino said.
Parents should also not be fooled into thinking the children will weigh the bounce house down.
"Their weight won't sustain or hold the bounce house down," he added.
Canino said a bounce house should be shutdown if it is raining, lightning or winds exceed 10 mph.
If you intend to rent a bounce house, Canino cautions parents to be careful because the State of Florida does not regulate the bounce house industry.
"Any owner or operator is not required to carry liability insurance to rent these things," he explained.
He explained that parents must investigate companies and ask questions.
"Most people are concerned with it being cleaned and sanitized and that there's no mold. That is important but you also want to make sure any bounce house or waterslide company that you rent from is licensed and insured."
Canino said renters need to expect and look for the following things from a company:
- The company should show proof of insurance
- The company should carry $1-$3 million in liability insurance
- Crews putting the bounce house up should stake it correctly
- Crews should also conduct a walk around with you to insure everything is installed properly and you know the safety rules