Following the good weather over the Easter break people will now be thinking about outdoor activities in the run up to and over summer. The hiring and use of bouncy castles is proving to be a popular activity.

It is however crucial that the appropriate safety steps are followed before a bouncy castle is used. Serious injuries have occurred where bouncy castles that have not been properly secured have collapsed or been blown away in windy conditions.

There was a high profile prosecution in 2018 following the tragic death of 7 year old Summer Grant in 2016. The bouncy castle she was playing on was blown some 300 metres downhill.

The prosecution argued that the two workers responsible (William and Shelby Thurston) failed to properly anchor the bouncy castle. They also had not monitored the weather conditions to ensure it was safe. Both Mr and Mrs Thurston were found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter and sentenced to three years in prison.

The HSE provides this guidance and practical tips on how to safely set up and use bouncy castles. The key points from the guidance which ought to be complied with prior to use are as follows:

  1. The bouncy castle should come with documentation that confirms it complies with the required British Standard.
  2. There should be instructions on how to safely operate the bouncy castle and no inflatable ought to be used in winds above 24 mph (38kmph)
  3. An anemometer should be used to measure the wind speed at regular intervals. Where this is not available the inflatable should not be used.
  4. Some inflatables may have a lower maximum wind speed for operation. The operating manual should always be checked to confirm the maximum wind speed for the safe operation of the inflatable.
  5. All inflatables should have at least six anchor points. You must ensure that all the anchor points are in place and not removed.
  6. Ensure that there are no holes or tears within the bouncy castle and that all other equipment including the blower are safe.

The guidance also covers what is required in terms of safe use and supervision of the bouncy castle. This includes:

  1. Ensuring users are always supervised.
  2. That the numbers of users does not exceed the limit given the instructions.
  3. That users are able to get on and off the bouncy castle safely with mats at the entrance.
  4. Measuring the wind conditions at regular intervals using an anemometer.
  5. Ensuring that the bouncy castle is safely deflated if the weather becomes unsuitable.

Hirers and operators of bouncy castles are obliged to follow more detailed direction.