Brand New Fear! “Bounce Houses Too Hot” Says Study

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What happens when polio and smallpox aren’t taking their toll anymore? Well you just have to look a little harder to find an unspeakable menace stalking our kids. As so, reports this article from Science Daily:

Heat safety issues in bounce houses can put children in danger, according to a new University of Georgia study.

Expanding on the concept of microclimates like those in parked vehicles that cause serious injuries to children, the study investigated potential heat-related risks associated with bounce houses, which create a microclimate environment similar to automobiles but one that had not been previously examined.

The new paper, “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.

I guess this was prompted by all the heat deaths of children locked in bounce houses.

Oh wait…

So tell me: Is there a problem more First World than this? Perhaps kids are getting too sweaty in their krav maga classes? Maybe there’s potentially serious cheek-flushing going on at marshmallow roasts? Or what about the crazy kids who choose to consume soup in the summer, and it’s not gazpacho? The inside of the mouth and upper throat can spike to dangerously high temps!

But of course, all that pales to the danger of inflatable fun.

The professor in charge of the study,Andrew Grundstein, reminded us that:”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.”

In other words, parents must scrutinize their children for signs that don’t seem that hard to notice — or recover from. (E.g., “moist skin.”)

Amazingly, this skin-moistening scourge had never been studied till just now:

“This research is a preliminary look at something that no one had really examined in the published literature,” said Marshall Shepherd, UGA Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences and co-author on the study. “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.”

Yes, parents should always be aware of something that no parent ever needed to be aware of till now. So how, exactly, should parents proceed? An abstract of the research suggests that:

Parents and caregivers should be aware of heat related hazards in bounce houses and closely monitor children, adjusting or canceling activities as conditions become more oppressive.

Monitor and cancel.

There you have it. The watchwords of our entire society when it comes to kids: Monitor them as if they are in constant danger from age-old activities, and cancel those activities when children appear flushed or hot.

That way kids can stay cool and still all summer long, as nature intended. – L

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Help! My skin is growing moist! (Photo credit: Valerie Everett)

Mommy, help! My skin is growing moist! (Photo credit: Valerie Everett)

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45 Responses to Brand New Fear! “Bounce Houses Too Hot” Says Study

  1. Michelle August 4, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    Wait, my kids aren’t SUPPOSED to be throwing up and falling over from dizziness and exhaustion?? Who knew?

  2. railmeat August 4, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    Aaaaahhhh!!! Our son is leaking water!!! Call 9-1-1!!!

    [ head in hands ]

  3. Andrea August 4, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    No, children are not more sensitive to heat than adults. The mere fact that bouncy houses in the summer exist is proof of that — it’s the adults who are seeking cool air and the nearest folding chair and the kids are like, “Hot day? Let’s jump!”

  4. BL August 4, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

    “Parents and caregivers should be aware of heat related hazards in bounce houses and closely monitor children, adjusting or canceling activities as conditions become more oppressive.”

    Conditions are always oppressive, if you believe the Weather Channel’s website. ‘The weather today is oh-my-God-we’re-all-going-to-diiiiiiiie!!!’

  5. Dean August 4, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

    Warning! Breathing may be hazardous to your child’s health!

  6. Denise August 4, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    Meteorologists? Aren’t those the guys who get paid and never ever have to be accurate with their predictions? And I should listen to them on this issue, why???

  7. Marianne August 4, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    “fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and flushed, moist skin”

    …are all symptoms of HEAT STROKE, a serious medical emergency that affects children and adult. Instead of zeroing in on specific activities in which such symptoms may present, wouldn’t it be more prudent to just be aware of these symptoms ANY time they occur? Isn’t easier to memorize a small handful of symptoms, than to keep an extensive mental checklist of the MYRiAD of activities during which the symptoms might happen? Wouldn’t it be easier to remember to keep an eye out for these symptoms ANY time they are likely to occur? You know….when it’s HOT? Or are we not interested in doing anything the easy way, because the harder we make things the more we love our kids?? Does this make too much sense?

  8. K2 August 4, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    “in the interests of the kids”, or “for the safety of the kids” has meant that being a kid or having kids in the 1950’s was much better than being a kid or having kids now. When we have to worry about every single thing including a bounce house there is a tired sort of aftereffect and not too many articles on WHY there are less babies being born now. No one wants to say that being a parent almost has too much liability now and that CPS harassment of 20% of the population contributes. Articles like this that soon become PSA’s take the fun out of bounce houses. Eventually this trend takes it too far and the very quiet result is that it is less desireable to have kids. The US generally has less kids, but it is a lot easier to blame the economy than CPS, fear mongering, or the liability of the parents.

  9. John B. August 4, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    Oh brother, and we wonder why children are not as active as they used to be. As soon as kids find a fun outdoor or physical activity to engage in, a new study arises on the dangers of it for kids. It seems as if EVERY new kid fad that comes out, the so-called child experts come out of the woodwork and inform us of the danger lurking in that activity. The internet (Facebook, youtube, Pokeman, etc.), modeling, youth football, youth wrestling, youth MMA and now bounce houses and even the increasing number of kids nowadays working out in gyms. Basically anything that’s actually GOOD for kids. But instead it’s DANGER! DANGER! We must stop our kids from engaging in these activities! They’re too fragile and 10 times more vulnerable than adults!!

    All this over reactionary nonsense gets me sick.

  10. MichaelF August 4, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    “Andrew Grundstein, UGA professor of geography and co-author on the study. ”

    The name itself made me think it was the Onion, but then I saw what he was professor of.

    Exactly HOW does that make him an expert on children’s health or bounce houses?

    This is very First World, when you can’t find a fear make one up.

  11. Resident Iconoclast August 4, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

    Whenever you encounter that word, “microclimate” in a story such as this, you are free to stop reading. It’s like a signpost that says “sophistry alert.”

    In the 10 percent of what’s left of so-called “journalism” today, where computers and click-bait artist write this excrement, it’s always important to put words in the story that don’t mean what they mean. The more the merrier.

  12. Roger the Shrubber August 4, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    My 10-year old’s baseball organization hosted a tournament. Rain postponed games and scheduling was tight. The tournament director received an email from a concerned parent requesting that the game that was scheduled for 3pm be postponed until later in the day because temperatures were in the lower 90’s.

  13. Christopher Byrne August 4, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    I love the picture this paints. Somewhere between “The Red Shoes” and “Poltergeist.” Obsessive, consumed kids are drawn to the bouncy house by an irresistible force pulling them in. They can’t stay away! The bouncy house calls to them. The siren call of the ever-running air pump cannot be avoided! In they go. Unaware that they are uncomfortable or too hot, they bounce relentlessly toward their inescapable doom, trapped by a supernatural force beyond their control. The horror! The horror!

    Two lessons: 1) people watch too many movies and believe they’re real. 2) We don’t trust children to be able to tell if they’re too hot, too cold, too wet, etc.

    You might suggest it’s too hot to bounce too long, but give kids a little credit.

  14. Jess August 4, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    I wonder if the authors have kids, since I know with mine, they are constantly informing me when they are too hot, too cold, thirsty, hungry, sad, angry, wet, hurt, want candy…

  15. Rachael August 4, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    My kids were in a bounce house a few weeks ago! Thank goodness they escaped with their lives! I’m so glad that they weren’t irreversibly damaged from that fun afternoon, which was sponsored by our (fairly freerange) city, btw.

  16. CrazyCatLady August 4, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    “Signs there is a problem may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and flushed, moist skin.” Um, yeah…when my kids feel fatigued, dizzy or nauseous, they come out of the bouncy house. They don’t stay in there because…well, they don’t feel well. When we did have access to neighborhood bounce house, parents pretty much did encourage kids to drink and or eat when they came out. Worked pretty well.

    Now, the REAL danger we found was when my then 3 year old unplugged the bouncy house. With kids inside. Fortunately, kids being kids who were somewhat scared and realizing that the house was HEAVY as it fell on them, screamed for help. Parents plugged it back in, I kept my son away from the plug.

  17. Betsy Murgatroyd August 4, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    Child breaks sweat! News at 11.

  18. NY Mom August 4, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    Cancel any activity when kids appear to be having fun!

    This is really about hating kids and making parents feel guilty for having them!

  19. m August 4, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    You mean they just discovered that excessive movement can cause heat? Especially in an enclosed environment?

    I’m shocked!

    Children should be kept motionless in a controlled temperature environment! Like when they sit on the sofa and watch TV all day in an air conditioned house!

    Yes, that’s so much better.

  20. Stacey Gordon August 4, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    Obviously someone is desperate to keep a grant. That’s most “science” these days.

  21. Ann in L.A. August 4, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

    The biggest problems I’ve seen with bounce houses are when little kids and big kids are in one together. The bigger kids’ mass makes bumping into the littler kids a bit worrisome. As long as the kids are roughly the same size, there not much problem.

    The second problem I’ve seen repeatedly is that some kid will turn off the air pump and the thing will start to collapse.

    Once, I’ve seen a bunch of pre-teens get inside it and try to push the thing over, almost trapping other kids under the collapsing structure.

    All of that just takes some common-sense supervision to alleviate.

  22. theresa August 4, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    I just don’t get how an open air environment.can roast. Someone to death. I get that running around makes you hot but bounce houses aren’t like cars in any way that I can see.

  23. James Pollock August 4, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    “I just don’t get how an open air environment.can roast”

    Bounce houses generally aren’t open-air, and then tend to be filled with little 98-degree heaters.

  24. elizabeth August 4, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

    to my knowledge, bounce houses aren’t made of metal and glass. theyre made of rubber and fabric, with nets for windows. this study would be the same as saying “breaking news: you can get diabetes from eating too much sugar.” nah, really? (snark) Anyone with half a brain can guess that too much exercise can cause you to overheat. even kids know that.

  25. shdd August 4, 2016 at 3:29 pm #

    In Maryland most of the bounce houses are inside. This includes our regular and religious school. Most of the events are in April and May and it could be pushing 90 degrees. The biggest problem is parents who insist that there 50 pound child cannot bounce with a 70 pound child even if they are best friends. My daughter had to bounce with her best friends younger sister who was the same weight and size (but six years younger).

    Now both girls (age 14) help with the younger kids programming and no one says a word at religious school.

  26. HotInLa August 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

    I’d be embarrassed to have my name/school associated with this “study”. Seriously, can’t they come up with something more important to do a study on?!

  27. James Pollock August 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

    “can’t they come up with something more important to do a study on?!”

    Something more important than OUR CHILDRENS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY????
    Surely you’re joking.

  28. Yocheved August 4, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

    When my synagogue has bouncy houses (either indoor or out), there is a supervisor who keeps things running smoothly. Larger kids are separated from the smaller ones. A handful of big kids get to bounce for 10 minutes, and then a whole bunch of little ones get 10 minutes, and then they switch off again. This gives everyone a chance, with lots of breaks for water and snacks.

    At the big bouncy house business that are indoor parks, they have super air conditioning, and water fountains on every wall, as well as selling water bottles and giving out cups to go with it. Supervisors are really hands off, unless a parent asks for assistance.

    OMG, common sense! When will it end?

  29. Backroads August 4, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

    Last week I took my daughter out to the in-laws for pioneer day festivities and her older cousin dragged her through a bouncer house and an inflatable waterside.

    She came back to me when it wasn’t fun anymore.

    Problem solved.

  30. Qute August 4, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    Oh good grief!

    I figured we’d have an article about the dangerous metal straws at starbucks. The three kids who cut their mouths out of the thousands and thousands of cups sold. But here I discovered I need to worry about no kids expiring in bouncy houses!

  31. hineata August 4, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

    Hardly ever see a bouncy castle inside – I thought the point of them was to have fun outside. But anyway, I suspect the purpose of this study was to find something for a postgrad to get their master or PhD on. Otherwise why waste good breathing time?

  32. Richard August 4, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    Always remember Betteridge’s Law. Any headline that asks a yes-or-no question rather than making a statement can be answered “No.”

    “Do Inflatable Bounce Houses Pose Heat-related Hazards to Children?”

    “Was Hitler a secret Jew?”

    “Do socks give you colon cancer?”

    Always works. Most of the time.

  33. Theresa August 4, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

    Nets for windows and doors. If they have them makes them pretty open. Plus not many have roofs. How much more open do you want no walls?

  34. Emily August 4, 2016 at 5:59 pm #

    >>When my synagogue has bouncy houses (either indoor or out), there is a supervisor who keeps things running smoothly. Larger kids are separated from the smaller ones. A handful of big kids get to bounce for 10 minutes, and then a whole bunch of little ones get 10 minutes, and then they switch off again. This gives everyone a chance, with lots of breaks for water and snacks.<<

    @Yocheved–Exactly. Most kids wouldn't have enough time to bounce in a bounce house to the point of developing heatstroke, because, if the bounce house is in a public place, chances are, there'll be a passel of other kids outside the door, clamouring for a turn. For the rare, lucky kids who have their own personal bounce houses, once the novelty wears off, they're probably not going to bounce for hours on end, because they know they can bounce whenever they want.

  35. CrazyCatLady August 4, 2016 at 8:41 pm #

    Where I used to live, there was a neighborhood bouncy house. Anyone who had a birthday, was welcome to use it. July 4, was a big day for it. It would be up and kids jumping from about 11 am to about 9 pm. Parents generally sat around, talking to each other, drinking some beer, and eating. Kids came and went, got juice or soda, ate, and had a great time. There may have been a few bumps, older kids were supposed to be careful when little kids got in. Parents did NOT stay and supervise all day.

    The only time anyone got sick was on my son’s birthday. His sister had had Norovirus. I warned everyone, had hand sanitizer and everyone came anyhow. My son, after being in the bouncy house, and having cake, threw up on the feet of one of the guests while opening a present. The rest of our family got ill that night with much running to the one toilet and lots of buckets. No one else got sick. Not the fault of the bouncy house.

    The above is the only time that I have seen a kid get sick in conjunction to a bouncy house. Despite our school having a back to school social each year that had a picnic and a bouncy house. That one did have parents standing and regulating things as 200 kids in one bouncy house at a time is not a good idea. There always was lots of sweat associated with the kids who kept coming back.

  36. lollpoplover August 4, 2016 at 9:19 pm #

    There’s a very real threat to our youth in these hot bouncy houses:
    Take one kid with bad gas on a hot day and you have a deadly dutch oven on your hands.

  37. Papilio August 5, 2016 at 1:10 am #

    @Lollipoplover: “deadly dutch oven”

    What have we done now

  38. Donna August 5, 2016 at 7:17 am #

    I know (enough to say hi in passing) one of the co-authors of this study. Our kids do martial arts together. My kid has actually jumped with his in a bounce house on a hot summer day in Georgia so I don’t think he is saying that bounce houses are too hot as the headline proclaims, just that they heat up more than adults likely realize.

    And kids frequently DON’T stop what they are doing even if hot, thirsty, etc. Heck, ADULTS don’t always stop doing what they are doing when they are hot, thirsty, etc., hence the reason that heat exhaustion and stroke occurs.

    This post is exactly why I’ve gone from a daily reader of this blog to an occasional reader of this blog. This is an article in Science Daily, not mainstream media. It is a report of a scientific study, of which their are millions looking at minutia of any number of things, not the 6 o’clock news. Nobody, except Lenore, is proclaiming bounce houses too hot.

  39. Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:40 am #

    Marianne–
    That is such a good point. If it is hot outside, and any member of my family gets nauseous, dizzy, faints, stops sweating– I am going to notice and take action. It does not need to be keyed to a list of activities, like bouncy houses, jogging, trampolines, hiking….

  40. Jessica August 5, 2016 at 7:44 am #

    Donna–
    I also check this site only every couple of weeks now. Because youre right, the drumbeat of “I found one tiny incident or one minor study and it is a sign that the world has gone crazy and we’re all in danger from CPS” does get tiring.

  41. lollpoplover August 5, 2016 at 9:55 am #

    @Pap-

    Dutch Oven (slang)-

    “The act of trapping a person under bed covers after releasing vile ass fumes
    Dave vomited on the sheets when his wife gave him a white castle dutch oven.”

    (A bad memory of a hot bouncy house when my toddler son went to a corner to poop and the smell was ungodly…)

  42. Liz August 5, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    I rented a bounce house for my son’s birthday in July, I am surprised I wasn’t arrested

  43. sexhysteria August 6, 2016 at 3:55 am #

    Oh, heat safety. When I saw the title “too hot” I thought people are starting to worry about bounce houses being sexually arousing.

  44. Papilio August 6, 2016 at 6:06 am #

    @lollipoplover (since when have you lost your i?): Ugh, so it’s another one in the Dutch wife/act/courage category. Those bloody Brits are such bad losers.

  45. Workshop August 9, 2016 at 9:04 am #

    “Moist skin” . . . yeah, where I’m from we call that “sweat.” I know, I know. Us country folk don’t like them high-dollar words like “perspiration.” But then again, it’s a mouthful to say “perspiration bees” rather than “sweat bees.”

    Some people just get educated right out of their brains.