Helpline Advice — Bouncy castles

Our Helpline Service is a 24/7 support network manned by experienced Environmental Health Practitioners. The team deal daily with an array of cases across health and safety, food safety, trading law & licensing, audit compliance, pest control, fire safety and related subjects. Through our ‘Helpline Advice’ blogs the team will advise you on the most common concerns we are currently being asked about. This week we look at bouncy castle safety after a series of widely reported incidents.

Earlier this year, what should have been a day of bouncy castle fun turned to tragedy as a dome-shaped inflatable blew away during high winds, taking a child with it. 7-year-old Summer Grant was enjoying the Essex Easter fair in Harlow, when the bouncy castle was blown 500m over trailers and caravans in the park before landing on a hill. Sadly, she died in hospital after sustaining multiple injuries. Those responsible for the castle were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

This was to be the second time that the safety of the Harlow fair was questioned after an inflatable during the same event collapsed while children were playing on it, with three children needing paramedic treatment.

Just last week, nine children were injured when an inflatable slide became detached from its moorings during Swanage Carnival. One child had to be taken to hospital, with 3 others taken to a minor injuries unit and the remaining 5 receiving treatment on site. The private stallholder who owned the inflatable will come under scrutiny from the HSE who are currently investigating the event. Calls to review the regulations of inflatable installations have been rejected by the HSE, but these cases show the necessity of increased awareness regarding safety measures in this field.

Our Helpline team advise that ‘all inflatable equipment must be inspected at periodic intervals. This results in a tag being attached to the equipment and a certificate of safety being issued by PIPA. This information should be checked with the provider of the bouncy castle to ensure the equipment has been inspected.’

‘Prior to operating a bouncy castle you need to do a risk assessment to ascertain safety measures that need to be in place. Clients who have purchased the Shieldyourself Health and Safety Management System will have our blank risk assessment form. We advise on basic considerations of safety when completing this assessment. It also needs to be checked if the provider will be supervising the event or if this responsibility falls to you.’

Planning on using a bouncy castle at your next event? Here are the Shieldyourself Helpline Team Do’s and Don’ts for Bouncy Castle and inflatables use:


• Have regard to the equipment’s intended use – Users that are outside the intended weight or height range can injure themselves and other users
• Make sure the blower is at least 1.2 metres from the inflatable – Serious injury can occur if a user strikes the blower unit
• Make sure the equipment has a current test certificate
• Look for the PIPA Tag and check its validity
• Use surround mats if provided – These are designed to negate identified risks
• Ensure that children are supervised at all times by a responsible adult – The vast majority of accidents occur through lack of, or bad, supervision
• Anchor the inflatable to the ground and ensure that you use every anchor point – Even in non-windy conditions the inflatable will move and creep (Perhaps taking it dangerously close to the blower)
• Hire your inflatable from a reputable operator – Some will try to cut costs on safety by not PIPA testing, always check
• Follow the instructions given to you by the hirer – They are there for the safety of your children
• Hire on the basis of the safest, not the cheapest
• Deflate the inflatable after use to prevent unsupervised use.


• Allow users to climb on to the walls – Most accidents happen this way
• Deflate the inflatable whilst in use – Users can strike the ground heavily if you do
• Use the inflatable if you have any doubt as to its safety
• Throw objects (or other people!) onto the inflatable
• Allow users onto the inflatable in high winds

To access the full Helpline Service or for more information on our other services, get in touch today on 0203 740 3744 or visit our homepage.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety, health and safety or fire safety advice. Shieldyourself take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shieldyourself services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email

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