Council issues safety advice about bouncy castles

Nottingham City Council has produced safety guidance for people using, hiring or supplying bouncy castles and other inflatable play equipment, following a number of tragic and serious accidents nationally.

Environmental Health Officers have produced advice for:

  • Users on ‘How to spot a well-run bouncy castle’
  • Event organisers on ‘What to look for in a safe supplier’
  • Hire companies on ‘requirements of supplying safe inflatable structures.’

In addition, officers have contacted over 30 local suppliers in and around the Nottingham area to inform them of their responsibilities regarding the safe supply and use of inflatables, including the requirements for annual checks and providing operating instructions for users.

Paul Dales, Safer Business Operations Manager, said: “Inflatable structures such as bouncy castles are often part of a great fun experience at events, though the safe management of them must be one of the first considerations.

“This is important guidance for commercial operators, charity event organisers and also parents of children who may be using the equipment to consider the safety measures that must be in place.”

The following basic precautions should be checked to ensure the safety of everyone using the bouncy castle:

  • The bouncy castle is securely anchored. It should have a minimum of six anchorage points, although all available points should be used. If situated on hard ground, mooring straps should be fixed to solid points (such as a vehicle or water ballast). Straps should be in good condition, with no holes or rips
  • There is enough air in the bouncy castle to keep it upright and provide a firm and reliable footing
  • Impact absorbing mats are positioned at the open side of the bouncy castle, extending a sufficient distance forward to ensure sufficient protection. (Mats may not be necessary on soft ground)
  • There is at least one person constantly supervising the children on the bouncy castle. An attendant who is collecting money cannot also supervise the activity
  • The bouncy castle doesn’t seem overcrowded. If children are constantly knocking into each other, the attendant may not be following the maximum load recommendations
  • Children are instructed to remove sharp articles of clothing like shoes, buckles and jewellery and this rule is enforced
  • There is evidence that the attendant is controlling the children. Bad behaviour should not be allowed, and children should not climb on the walls of the inflatable.

If you have any questions about the use of inflatables, further help can be found on the PIPA website at www.pipa.org.uk or in British Standard BS EN 14960 – ‘Inflatable play equipment – safety requirements and test methods.’ Alternatively, you can contact the Community Protection Safer Business Team at Nottingham City Council on 0115 876 1494.

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