Inflatable fun on campus continuing despite serious student injury

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BYU freshman Josh Hinton broke his neck while in a bounce house.

BYU officials OK’d the continued use of bounce houses and other inflatables at campus activities following a safety review after a serious injury during New Student Orientation.

BYU Risk Management evaluated the inflatable policy after an Aug. 29 accident where BYU freshman Josh Hinton broke his neck in a bounce house obstacle course. Hinton, from Stansbury Park, Utah, is at Craig Hospital in Colorado and still paralyzed from the chest down.

“In light of Josh’s accident, we immediately reviewed the policies and procedures associated with the use of inflatables and determined that the use of inflatables will continue,” said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins in an email to The Universe.

The bounce house inflatable was part of a social activity on the last day of New Student Orientation. Bounce houses have been a regular feature at new student orientation Saturday night for years.

“We usually do have the inflatables, we are not sure if that will continue,” said Heather Hammond, the activities coordinator of New Student Orientation and Dean’s Office Undergrad Educator. Despite BYU allowing inflatables and the tradition of Saturday night bounce houses, NSO may not continue this activity.

Jenkins said to have an inflatable approved for a campus activity, the activity coordinators must submit a proposal to the scheduling office and risk management department. The risk of the activity is assessed to ensure that the activity is appropriate and keeps to the university policies and guidelines. BYU activities that include inflatables, laser tag, rock walls and hiking the Y all require students to sign a waiver. These waivers are intended to inform students of possible danger and allow them to responsibly choose to participate or not.

Amanda Bigelow, 18, a freshman from Syracuse, Utah, was at the bounce house the night of Josh’s injury. “With any activity people can get hurt,” she said. “I don’t feel like it was necessarily the bounce houses that causes the problem it’s just random freak accidents.”

“BYU does not believe it is liable for Josh’s tragic accident,” Jenkins said. “Out of concern for Josh, BYU has initiated contact with Josh and his family, and we will be discussing with them what BYU can do to assist them.” In a previous interview with The Universe, Hinton’s family said they do not blame BYU and the injury was simply a freak accident.

Nathan Shaw, 21, a freshman from West Haven, Utah, was also at orientation when Hinton got injured.

“Some people will probably be a little more careful in the future,” Shaw said. “Personally I’m going to be more careful in bounce houses.”

According to Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 50,709 inflatable injuries nationwide from 2011 to 2013. About 47,466 of these injuries involved moon bounce inflatables, which are also known as bounce houses.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission classifies inflatables under amusement attraction. Out of all sports and recreational equipment, amusement attractions were cause of less than 1 percent of emergency room injuries in 2014. Further statistics indicate that legs, feet, arms and hands are the most likely to be injured when using inflatables.

From 2003-2013 Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 12 deaths which involved inflatables. For moon bounce inflatables, two deaths were the result of head and neck injuries, one resulted from suffocation and another from drowning. The remaining five deaths involved inflatable slides.

BYU’s Hinton is paralyzed from the chest down. In the two months since his injury, Hinton has gained feeling in his arms and some fingers and recently gained feeling in two of his toes. He can grab and move objects, his family reports. Doctors at Craig Hospital say he is improving quickly.

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