INSIDE EDITION Investigates Inflatable Castle Dangers

Yesterday, INSIDE EDITION showed some disturbing video of a bouncy castle flying away in the wind. It turns out many children are hurt every year when the inflatable castles become airborne. So how safe are these things for kids to play in? Inside Edit

The video is incredible—a jumping castle sent flying into the air by a dust devil in Arizona last weekend.

But it's not the first one of these inflatable rides to go airborne. A 911 call captured another recent incident, also in Arizona.

911 caller: "A jumping castle just took flight from a really strong gust of wind. There's kids inside hurt. We need help."

Dozens of children have been injured this year when bounce houses were blown away by strong gusts of wind. So, just how can these jumping castles go airborne? INSIDE EDITION rented a wind machine to find out.

Amusement safety expert Ed Pribonic set up a typical jumping castle by anchoring all four corners with stakes according to the directions. As the wind machine hit speeds of 70mph, the castle at first held, then tipped and broke free, cartwheeling across the park.

"Without these anchors though, the thing wouldn't have stood a chance," says Pribonic, who believes many of these accidents happen when the inflatables aren't anchored down properly, or are not anchored down at all.

When the wind machine was turned on without any anchors holding the castle down, it immediately blew away.  

When INSIDE EDITION spot checked street fairs in New York City, we discovered rides anchored improperly and some corners that weren't anchored at all.

But wind isn't the only factor in the thousands of accidents caused every year on inflatable amusements.

"I don't want another family to go through what I went through," says Sarah Ruggiero, whose adorable five-year-old son Matthew was killed last year after he fell from an inflatable ride and cracked his head on the cement floor at an indoor playground.

"Losing a child is horrible, but losing a child to something that could have been prevented is that much worse," said Ruggiero.

Now the grieving mother just wants every parent to know about the potential dangers before letting their kids bounce away.

A spokesperson for the Association of Inflatable Rental Company Operators insists jumping castles and other inflatable rides are safe, but they should not be used when it's windy, and should always be anchored properly.

Pribonic suggests these tips:

  • If you are renting an inflatable, check the reputation of the renter and confirm that they carry liability insurance.
  • Be sure that installation of the rented device is performed by the renting company
  • If the device is in poor condition, or dirty, refuse to accept it
  • Ask for and read the operating instructions and warnings for the device
  • Check the installation against the operating instructions before the renter leaves
  • Be certain that the device is properly anchored, according to the operating instructions, and uses all available anchoring straps
  • Keep the device clear of obstacles or overhead power lines.
  • Always have an adult supervising the use of the device
  • Explain the rules of use to all the children before allowing them to use the device
  • If you are at an amusement park or similar location, be sure there is an attendant supervising the use of the inflatable, and that the attendant is attentive.
  • Be sure that large children or adults are not allowed in a bounce house with smaller children.
  • Never allow your child to slide head first or dive on any inflatable device.
  • Do not allow small children on steep slides.
  • To avoid burns, check the temperature of surface of the inflatable if it is in direct sunlight