Bounce house flies away, injuring kids: What to know before your children play in one

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By Scott Stump

For the second time in the past two weeks, an inflatable bounce house with children inside went airborne after high winds sent it tumbling in a field in Colorado. 

A witness captured the scene on a cell phone video as two children suffered a tumble at the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Jamboree in Jefferson County on Saturday, when the bounce house came untethered and sailed into the air. Winds were gusting at nearly 30 miles per hour, sending the house 300 feet from its original spot. 

"All of a sudden it picks up and there's a girl going down the slide,'' witness Vannessa Atencio told TODAY. "She flies out about eight feet in the air. It was pretty horrific and scary. You just kind of freeze in the moment. You don't know what to do." 

A young girl was ejected from the inflatable slide when the house came loose, and a 10-year-old boy who was inside the house was rushed to the hospital. Doctors told NBC national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen that he is expected to make a full recovery.

Air Bound, the company that was in charge of the bounce house, told Rossen it was a freak accident, and said the house was properly staked into the ground and monitored by an attendant. 

The incident came two weeks after two young boys ages 5 and 6 suffered serious injuries when a gust of wind blew away a bounce house in South Glens Falls, N.Y. The boys fell 20 feet to the asphalt, and a 10-year-old girl who was in the house suffered minor scrapes. In 2011, 13 people were hurt when the wind blew a bounce house loose in Long Island, N.Y. 

Dan Stuckey, the general manager of Jump and Jam, a safety certified bounce house company in Long Island, gave TODAY some tips on how to keep kids safe. "This wall of the bounce house, it's just like a kite or a sail,'' Stuckey told Rossen. "If it's not properly secured...wind will take it and just tip it right over. Kids will fall out and get hurt very seriously." 

Here are Stuckey's tips to avoid a bounce house disaster:

  • Properly secure the house by using stakes that are at least 18 inches long, and hammer them all the way into the ground at a 45-degree angle.
  • When the wind is higher than 20 miles per hour, which usually causes the tops of trees to start swaying, it is not safe to let children in the bounce house.
  • Make sure you are not setting the house up near any power lines or near any water or pool.
  • Make sure the ground is firm because sand or loose dirt could cause injuries and instability.
  • If you are taking your child to a bounce house on someone else's property, check if there are any rips or tears in it, and make sure the straps where the anchor points are located are in good condition. 
  • If the house has a slide, make sure the ropes anchoring it aren't old or deteriorated.
  • Read the rules and recommendations printed on the house before using.

"It always has the height and weight limits and the limit of how many children can be in there,'' Stuckey told "You don't want to go over the weight limit because if all the kids shift to one side at the same time, the house can fall over." 

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