“Please, please, please, may I go on the bouncy castle ……?”
Parents of young children will be familiar with this kind of question from their little ones. After all, when we take our youngsters to fun fairs, amusement parks, or other organised events that have bouncy castles as part of the entertainment, the whole idea is that they should have fun. Even Mums and Dads can agree that jumping up and down on a bouncy castle is fun.!
However, now and then, we read a horror story in the press where a child has suffered terrible injuries while playing on a bouncy castle. It can make us think twice about saying ‘Yes’ to our child and, in doing so, risk having a stroppy youngster on our hands.
Should we be concerned about allowing our children to use bouncy castles?
Youth organisation the Boys Brigade has flagged up statistics that reveal approximately 10,000 injuries are caused by bouncy castle accidents every year. It’s a figure that may come as a surprise to many.
The more severe types of bouncy castle injury are likely to occur when a child loses control, falls off the attraction and lands on the floor. These types of accidents can lead to broken bones or head injuries.
Fortunately, fatal injuries caused by bouncy castle accidents are rare. When they happen, it is likely because an attraction becomes untethered from its moorings in strong winds and gets blown into the air whilst children are still playing on it.
In June 2018, a couple from Cambridgeshire were jailed after a 7-year-old girl died when the bouncy castle she was playing on was blown away by strong winds at a fair in Harlow, Essex.
The couple had been operating the giant inflatable bouncy castle and were responsible for managing it. The judge at their trial said they had failed to make sure the attraction was adequately moored and to monitor the weather conditions to make sure it was safe to continue using the inflatable.
Whilst tragic incidents like this are rare occurrences, it’s no surprise that parents reading about them think twice the next time their child asks to go on a bouncy castle
Should we continue to allow our children to use bouncy castles?
It’s worth saying that hundreds of thousands of children of all ages play on bouncy castles up and down the country every year, without getting so much as a scratch whilst doing so. Most of us have allowed our children to play on bouncy castles and other similar inflatables many times, without incident.
So, what should we do when our child is looking at us in eager anticipation expecting us to give our nodded consent to their question? As responsible parents, the sensible approach would be to carry out a risk inspection of the inflatable before deciding whether to give our children the answer they want to hear. It will only take minutes to do this, as follows:
- Carry out a quick survey of the attraction yourself. Does it appear to be adequately moored to the ground?
- Is the attraction being adequately supervised? Are the children allowed to engage in horseplay, or do the supervisors seem to control them efficiently?
- Are the children using the bouncy castle of mixed ages? Sometimes, younger children can be more vulnerable to getting hurt if older, bigger children use the inflatable simultaneously.
- Are there too many children on the bouncy castle at any one time? If so, it may be possible to avoid disappointing your youngsters by returning to use it a little later on, when it is quieter.
- Are there adequate safety mats surrounding the attraction?
- Does the equipment appear to be in satisfactory condition?
- Is the bouncy castle free from tripping hazards such as trailing ropes etc.?
- Do the supervisors provide the children with any safety instructions before using the attraction?
If you are satisfied with the answers you give to your questions after inspecting the attraction, you will likely have one happy child on your hands. If you don’t feel comfortable with what you find, then move on – better to have a grumpy child for a while rather than an injured one for longer!
And If your child is injured, what should you do?
Bouncy castle owners and operators must comply with Health and Safety legislation to make sure those who use their equipment do so safely. If they breach the legislation and, as a result, a child gets injured, they are likely to face a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution. You would also be entitled to bring a personal injury claim against the attraction owners on behalf of your child.
An experienced personal injury solicitor will be able to provide legal advice on your prospects of making a successful claim for compensation and then handle any subsequent case using a No Win No Fee Agreement.