Bounce houses are temporary inflatable structures that are often rented for birthday parties, festivals, and other recreational purposes for use by children in and around Massachusetts. These houses are most common during the warmer weather. Although a popular activity for parents to treat their youngsters with, bounce houses may have a hidden danger as a study published by the University of Georgia reports. The new study highlights heat safety concerns with bounce houses that can endanger children. The University of Georgia examines the theory of microclimates within the bounce houses. The study investigated the potential heat-related risks that can be caused by microclimate environments in bounce houses, similar to microclimates in parked cars. Parked cars have been notoriously dangerous on hot summer days, especially when children and pets are involved. The report expands upon this danger and researches if the same risk could be applicable in bounce houses. The paper titled, “Do Inflatable Bounce Houses Pose Heat-related Hazards to Children” was published July 28 in the early online edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Specifically, the study compared temperature and moisture conditions inside the bounce house to the open-air climate outside the bounce house, as well as any consequential health risks that could be sustained form such conditions. “Heat illnesses like heat stroke can be deadly and occur in children participating in sports, left alone in parked cars, and as our study shows, potentially when playing in bounce houses,” said Andrew Grundstein, UGA professor of geography and co-author on the study. “Children are more sensitive to heat than adults and parents need to carefully watch their children for signs of overheating when active on hot and humid days. Signs there is a problem may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and flushed, moist skin.”
These conclusions were made by analyzing experiments made using a bounce house in July of last year on the UGA campus. According to researchers, it was an average day in summer with a temperature of about 92 degrees Fahrenheit. During a five-hour period, the discrepancy between the temperature inside the bounce house and outside reached 7 degrees Fahrenheit, with the internal temperature exceeding 100 F. Marshall Shepherd, UGA Athletic Association distinguished professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences and co-author of the study, hopes this is somewhat of a wakeup call for parents. “This research is a preliminary look at something that no one had really examined in the published literature,” Shepherd said. “I knew it was a problem when I watched my child in one on a particularly hot day and our early findings confirmed my suspicions. Hopefully it makes parents more aware of something they probably overlooked.” In addition to measuring the temperature difference, researchers also looked at the heat index, a combination of air temperature and humidity used by the National Weather Service as a heat exposure metric. The difference in heat index between the inside and outside of the bounce house was even greater than the temperature difference. Researchers included a modified heat index table in the study to help parents in evaluating potential heat-related hazards. The overall message from the study was to urge parents to be aware of the risks bounce houses can have for their children, especially during the summer months.
“Heat Safety a Concern With Bounce Houses.” Claims Journal News. N.p., 02 Aug. 2016. Web. 02 Aug. 2016.