What Parents Need To Know About Child Safety On Bouncy Castles And Inflatables

'No-one wants to be a party pooper, but if you’re in doubt go with your instinct. '

Parents who are worried about their child’s safety when playing on inflatables or bouncy castles should trust their instincts, advises the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT).

Katrina Phillips, CAPT chief executive, explains: “It can be tricky to judge if it’s a good idea for your child to go on an inflatable at public events. No-one wants to be a party pooper, but if you’re in doubt go with your instinct. You can always distract them with an ice-cream.”

Inflatables are common at both public events and family birthday parties, so what do parents need to know to ensure their child is as safe as possible?

(Stock image)
Wavebreakmedia via Getty Images
(Stock image)

Phillips tells HuffPost UK you can tell if an inflatable attraction at a public event, such as a fair, is being properly run by looking to see: “if there’s an attendant monitoring numbers and making sure there aren’t lots of much bigger children on with smaller ones and if the attendant is keeping a check for any behaviour that is dangerous or could cause injury to fellow jumpers.”

“No-one wants to be a party pooper but if you’re in doubt go with your instinct. You can always distract them with an ice-cream!”

- Katrina Phillips, chief executive, Child Accident Prevention Trust.

Before giving in to your child’s pleadings to go on a bouncy castle, the Royal Society For The Prevention Of Accidents (ROSPA) also recommends checking the following things:

:: All anchorage points should be used and if situated on hard ground, mooring straps should be affixed to solid points.

:: If the inflatable is not on soft ground, impact absorbing mats should be positioned at the open sides.

:: There should be at least one person constantly supervising the children, and preventing horseplay or climbing on the walls of the inflatable. An attendant who is collecting money cannot also supervise the activity.

:: The inflatable should not be overcrowded. If children are constantly knocking into each other the maximum load recommendations may have been exceeded

:: Children should only be allowed on in groups of similar sizes to avoid larger children crushing smaller ones.

:: Children should be instructed to remove sharp articles of clothing like shoes, buckles and jewellery.

What safety concerns do you need to be aware of if you’re thinking of hiring an inflatable?

Before deciding which firm to hire from ask for detailed safety guidelines, including information on anchorage (every inflatable should have at least six anchor points, though bigger ones will need more), the maximum number of children that can be safely accommodated at any one time, and what to do if the weather is wet or windy.

It is important that you feel fully satisfied with the answers to your questions before going ahead with the hire, as the Health And Safety Executive explains: “The quality construction, maintenance and operation of inflatable play equipment can be extremely variable. Buyers, hirers and users should make sure they know what it is they are paying for; things are generally cheap for good reason!

“Inflatables are great fun but accidents involving broken limbs and necks are not uncommon.”

Ensure the inflatable has been built to the current British Standard (BS EN 14960) - if it has, there will be a label on it saying so, which will also tell you when it was made, how many people can use it and what heights they should be. Never hire an inflatable without means of anchorage if it is for outdoor use, ROSPA cautions.

“’Ideally the equipment should be set up by the company,” says Phillips. “They should be able to offer advice on appropriate placement, safe anchoring and safe use and provide ancillary equipment such as crash mats.

“Ensure you follow the same rules about overcrowding, differences in sizes of children (definitely not adults and children together) and regulating any dangerous behaviour.”

You should also look into insurance. Ask the supplier if you can see a copy of their public liability insurance. ″[You] should be very careful of booking any supplier who refuses to provide it or confirms that they do not have insurance,” says Sarah Garner, solicitor at DAS Law.

“In many cases, the operator is likely to be responsible for accidents sustained as a result of use of entertainment facilities such as bouncy castles and giant slides. You could however be liable if you have hired equipment and failed to ensure that children are adequately supervised in using this equipment, either by yourself or by arranging a host from the venue where the party is being held.”