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Mishap shines spotlight on safety surrounding bounce houses

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: May 14 2014 05:45:20 PM CDT

Three young kids experienced terrifying moments as they were hurdled high into the air inside an inflatable bounce house in upstate New York.

Three young kids experienced terrifying moments as they were hurdled high into the air inside an inflatable bounce house in upstate New York.

Two boys, ages 5 and 6, were still recovering Wednesday after falling nearly two stories out of the bounce house.

"I look out and I see the bouncy house go up," said a witness.

The inflatable bounce house was staked to the ground, but it lifted about 20 feet into the air after a sudden and strong burst of wind, police said.

"The first little boy came out landed in the middle of the road right there," the witness said.

The second boy hit his head on a car and landed on the ground outside an apartment building in South Glen Falls, a small village about 55 miles north of Albany. The boys were airlifted to Albany Medical Center. Both are now recovering, but the extent of their injuries is not known.

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Luckily, a third child, a 10-year-old girl, fell out during liftoff and only suffered scrapes.

"I looked at the video and was amazed at how high the unit went," said Kim Raifsnider, owner of Tumble N Bounce in Maidencreek Township, Berks County.

Raifsnider rents out the units, but if they're not used properly, she said they can be dangerous.

"We're regulated by the state, so everything has to be safety conscious for the kids," said Raifsnider.

A set of rules must be signed and followed, and the unit should always be staked into the ground.

The bounce house weighs 300-plus pounds, but with the right wind it can easily be picked up. Officials warned if the winds exceed 20 mph, the house should be deflated immediately.

"Or if it starts raining you also shut it down so the kids do not get hurt by slipping and sliding," said Raifsnider.

According to the journal Pediatrics, bounce house injuries have more than doubled in the last few years.

In 2010 alone, 31 children were treated in emergency departments each day on average, according to the report.

"That's about one child every 45 minutes," said Dr. Gary Smith, who is the director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Smith said the pattern of injuries from inflatable bounce houses is similar to injuries suffered from trampoline use, but while there are national safety guidelines for trampolines, there are none for inflatable bounce houses.

Raifsnider said parents need to pay attention.

"There should be an adult supervising the party and making sure all the children are safe and not doing things they shouldn't be doing."

Little Tikes, the bounce house manufacturer, said it was investigating the incident.

"Providing safe and wholesome play experiences is of utmost importance to Little Tikes," the company said in a statement. "We are looking into what happened in South Glen Falls. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with the children and their families."

No charges have been filed, although an investigation was continuing, police said. They considered it a "tragic accident."