There are an estimated 23 million uses of inflatable equipment every year in the UK, and right now is the height of bouncing season. In recent years there have been two fatalities from uses of bouncy castles, and as a result a local Conservative MP wants to ban the use of bouncy castles in a public space.
We find out if children are safe on bouncy castles by a bouncy castles Essex expert.
Bouncy castles and other inflatable play equipment rules
According to the health and safety law, all bouncy castle equipment used “as a slide or for bouncing upon” by members of the public needs to be regularly tested by a “competent” person. This inspection needs to be carried out before the bouncy castle is first used, and after that it’s every year. There are two main organisations involved in testing bouncy castles; the Register of Play Inspectors International and the Pertexa Inflatable Play Accreditation.
Anyone looking to hire a bouncy castle should ask to see proof that it has had its annual test.
Every bouncy castle supplied by a reputable manufacturer – for public use or private hire – should come with a unique tagged number showing that the bouncy castle has been designed to meet a recognised standard.
The type of checks that an inspector will carry out include wear or rips in the fabric, the internal air pressure, the number and condition of the anchors, the firmness of any walls and towers and the condition of the blower and whether it has sufficient mesh guards.
Alongside the strict tests, bouncy castles must all come with operating instructions. The instructions will contain information on the number of people allowed on the bouncy castle at any one time, as well as any height limits.
With the death of Summer Grant in 2016 in Harlow and the recent death of three-year-old Ava-May in Norfolk, a local MP wants to ban the use of bouncy castles in a public space. Local bouncy castle businesses have written to the MP to ask him to rethink his call for a temporary ban on all inflatables in fear of threatening the livelihoods of thousands of safe operators across the whole of the UK.
Inflatables and bouncy castles have been linked to injuries before however, with the HSE having warnings on the site about accidents involving broken limbs and necks are not uncommon on inflatables.