Washington: Parents, take note! Inflatable bounce houses can get as hot as the inside of a parked car, putting your children at risk of heat strokes, scientists have warned.
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 study examined specific research questions that compared temperature and moisture conditions inside the bounce house to ambient outdoor conditions, and whether such differences might reach levels that pose health risks.
"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, professor at the University of Georgia (UGA)." 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," said Grundstein.
"Signs there is a problem may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and flushed, moist skin," he said. The findings are based on experiments with a bounce house last year, with weather conditions representative of a typical
summer day. Over a five-hour period of measurements, researchers found that air temperatures inside the bounce house were consistently greater than ambient conditions.
For a 33 degree Celsius summer day in Athens, the bounce house added almost 4 degrees to the temperature. However, peak bounce house temperatures exceeding 37 degree Celsius were almost 7 degrees more than outside temperatures. "This research is a preliminary look at something that no one had really examined in the published literature. Hopefully it makes parents more aware of something they probably overlooked," said Marshall Shepherd, professor at UGA.
Researchers also considered the heat index, which integrates air temperature and humidity and is used as a heat exposure metric by the National Weather Service. The difference in heat index within and outside the bounce house was larger than for air temperatures alone.
The average heat index reached almost 40 degree Celsius in the bounce house, over 7 degrees more than outside, and its peak temperature of 47 degree Celsius was over 8 degrees greater. The study was published in the journal Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society....