The potential dangers of bounce houses were highlighted Wednesday when five high school students in Washington state were injured, including one critically, when they were inside a bounce house that went airborne from a hard gust of wind.
The students suffered their injuries during an event on the football field at Zillah High School when the wind lifted the bounce house about 20 feet in the air, an eyewitness told NBC affiliate KNDO.
"At approximately 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday May 1, 2019, an accident occurred at Zillah High School during an Associated Student Body event,'' the school district said in a statement. "Five students were involved. The nature and extent of their injuries are unknown at this time. Our hearts go out to the students, parents, and staff of those involved. Administration is currently looking into this matter."
Zillah Mayor Scott Carmack told YakTriNews that one student was taken to nearby Astria Regional Medical Center with critical injuries, while the other four suffered minor injuries after the bounce house was carried more than 240 feet. He said teachers performed CPR on one of the students before the paramedics reached the scene.
It's the latest mishap involving a bounce house being swept off the ground by high winds and injuring those inside.
Five children were injured in 2017 when two bounce houses at a church carnival in South Carolina were blown into a tree and power lines by high winds.
In 2015, several children were injured in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when a water spout launched their bounce house into the air.
A witness captured the scene on a cell phone video in 2014 as two children suffered a tumble at the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Jamboree in Colorado when a 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.
That incident came two weeks after two boys, ages 5 and 6, suffered serious injuries when a gust of wind blew away a bounce house in South Glens Falls, New York. 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, New York.
Dan Stuckey, the general manager of Jump and Jam, a safety certified bounce house company in Long Island, gave TODAY some tips in 2014 on how to keep kids safe.
"This wall of the bounce house, it's just like a kite or a sail,'' Stuckey said. "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 go in the bounce house.
- Make sure you are not setting the house up near any power lines or bodies of water, like a 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 the house 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 TODAY. "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."