Environmental health officers at Derby City Council have written to company’s providing inflatable play equipment in the city to highlight the importance of safe use and operation of inflatable play equipment.

Bouncy castles, inflatable slides and other inflatables are great fun but in recent years there have been a number of serious incidents where inflatable amusement devices have collapsed or blown away in windy conditions for example Harlow in 2016 Gorlston on Sea, Great Yarmouth and Woking in 2018 and DCC wants to ensure that all operators understand the risks associated with bouncy castles and inflatable play equipment, and the safety precautions required.

Most accidents and incidents relate to the quality of construction, maintenance and operation, with the most serious accidents relating to inflatables not being suitably secured and poor supervision.

The majority of bouncy castle operators are responsible, and work hard to ensure you stay safe and have fun. So how can you tell a good operator from a bad one?  What checks can you do to make sure the inflatable your child is pleading to go on, or the equipment you are going to hire is safe?

Here are some hints and tips to recognising well run inflatable equipment.

Equipment

  • Does the equipment look clean and in good condition?
  • Are there large enough safety mats at the entry and exit points?
  • Is it inflated correctly (not over inflated or sagging)?
  • Does it have a PIPA tag or ADiPs DoC. All inflatables should have one to show it is inspected annually and properly manufactured.  You can check this online.
  • Is it anchored securely? All anchorage points should be used and if on hard ground, the straps should be fixed to solid points.
  • Are fans/ generators protected?

Management

  • Is the operator paying attention and supervising?
  • Are children told to remove sharp articles of clothing like shoes, belts, jewellery?
  • Is the attendant controlling the children? Horseplay should not be allowed and children must not be allowed to climb on, nor jump off the walls of the inflatable.
  • Is there control of the maximum number of people using the equipment?
  • Are children of different ages/sizes mixed? In busy periods the attendant should operate a rota to avoid larger children crushing smaller ones.

Environment

  • Is the weather is it windy or gusty? No inflatable should be used in winds above 24 mph (38 kmph).
  • If indoors, can it fit safely without blocking exits?
  • Is the inflatable suitably anchored to prevent it moving, overturning, or blowing away?

If you’re thinking of hiring your own inflatable equipment you should, request detailed information from the companies you are considering. This should include:

  • Make sure the inflatable is suitable for the size of space and the type of ground available.
  • Ask if additional equipment such as barriers, groundsheets and cushioning for hard ground at any open sides is needed.
  • Consider how it is powered. Electrical cables must be suitable for use outside and must not pose a trip hazard.  If powered by a generator then it will require fencing off with a fire extinguisher close by.  Spare fuel must be stored safely and away from any sources of ignition.
  • Ensuring the equipment has a current safety certificate to show it complies with British Standard BS EN 14960. (There should be a PIPA tag or ADiPs DoC tag on the equipment that is easily seen).
  • Make sure that the inflatable can be fully anchored to the floor, whether it is inside a hall or outside.
  • Instructions on how to safely operate the equipment i.e.
    • the age, size and number of people who are to use it
    • what to do in wet or windy weather
    • How the inflatable should be anchored to the floor.
    • How to protect children and others from electrical equipment/generators.

On the day it’s also important to check the weather as  no inflatable should be used in winds above 24 mph (38 kmph).

A check list is available for you to use on the DCC Health and Safety Topics page

Hopefully, the above will help you to have fun in a safer way.  If any of the above seem in doubt you are better off avoiding using the equipment.

Cllr Jonathan Smale, Cabinet Member for Communities, Neighbourhoods and Streetpride said

“The use of inflatable play equipment should be safe and fun.  Recent tragic incidents’ involving such equipment highlights the significant risks that can arise where operators do not effectively manage their use.  Our service is keen to raise awareness of these issues in order to allow operators to review their arrangements and allow parents to make informed choices about using inflatable equipment.”

If you have concerns about any inflatable equipment you have hired or used then please contact the Food and Safety Team on 01332 640779 for further advice.