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Bouncy Castles and Inflatable Play Equipment Guidance for safe use (FS120342)

                                    (Published July 2018 replacing December 2012)


Many events organised and attended by members of The Scout Association have bouncy castles and inflatable play equipment (Inflatable) on site. This guidance aims to help those responsible consider the best options for a safe event and assess potential dangers before allowing their young people, adults or others to use the Inflatable

Hiring a safe Inflatable for use at Scouting or public events

The most likely way of sourcing an Inflatable is through a hire company. Remember that the organisers of the event may still be responsible for the actions of the Contractor so it is important to make sure that they have suitably considered any safety controls that need to be in place.

They should provide you with risk assessments and method statements/ operating procedures to demonstrate this. Additionally, they should have suitable and sufficient Public Liability Insurance in place and up to date.

You should also be looking for confirmation that they have had inspections of their inflatable by either Amusement Device Industry Procedures Scheme (ADIPS) or PIPA (inspection scheme for inflatable play equipment).  They carry out independent inspection regimes using standards recognised as best practice by the HSE.

There is additional guidance about the use of Contractors on the Scouts website http://members.scouts.org.uk/factsheets/FS320011.pdf

Before deciding which firm to hire the Inflatable from, their detailed risk assessment should include information relating to the following, which will help you with your own Risk Assessment. 

·        The selection of an appropriate site for the Inflatable Including additional measures such as cushioning hard ground at the open side.

·        How to perform an inspection of the Inflatable.

·        Inflation and mooring of the Inflatable. Stakes should be at least 300mm long.  Never hire one without means of anchorage if the inflatable is for outdoor use.

·         Protection from fan motors

·         Protection from anchor points and cables. Consider how this is managed to protect both pedestrians and vehicles

·        Recommended maximum number of people that can be safely accommodated on the Inflatable at any one time. The age and size of any children who are to use the inflatable will influence this.

·        Advice on the use of additional inflatable such as perimeter barriers.                                                         

·        What to do in the event of wet, windy weather or extreme heat.

·        Participant rota systems that avoid the mixing of different age or sizes. If the demand is great the attendant should operate a rota to avoid larger children crushing smaller ones.

·        Adequate supervision. Attendants collecting money, for example, cannot adequately supervise people on the inflatable.

·        Appropriate behaviour of users. Users should not climb on walls, attempt acrobatics (e.g somersaults) or take food or drink onto the inflatable.

·        How to protect users and others from electrical equipment. If there are trailing electrical cables or unguarded generators it may not be suitable for people to go on the inflatable.

·         Emergency procedures. What to do next in the event of an incident with the Inflatable


Operating a safe Inflatable for use at Scouting or public events

Before use begins take a moment to assess and review potential risks.  This is especially important if you are operating the Inflatable yourselves. 

·        Don’t forget to appoint a leader in charge for your event.

They will take an overview of the event to check that all agreed safety controls remain in place and are monitored throughout for conditions or circumstances which may change their effectiveness. Have they communicated the hazards and controls to all those needing to know?


ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) recommends that you ask yourself the following questions as part of your Risk Assessment, in addition to the points already highlighted above:

·        Is the Inflatable securely anchored? All anchorage points should be used and if situated on hard ground mooring straps should be affixed to solid points.

·        Are impact-absorbing mats positioned at the open side of the Inflatable extending a sufficient distance forward to ensure sufficient protection? If the Inflatable is on soft ground (e.g.: sand) it may not be necessary to use mats.

·        Does the Inflatable seem overcrowded? There should be a sign displaying the maximum number of children allowed on the bouncy castle at any one time.

·        Are users instructed to remove sharp articles of clothing such as shoes, buckles and jewellery?

·        Are the rules being enforced?                                                                               

·        Is there evidence that the attendant is monitoring and controlling the users? Horseplay should not be allowed, and users should not climb on the walls of the inflatable. Occasional monitoring should check this.


Further useful information

·        www.scouts.org.uk/safety - for further guidance on safer events

·        FS120000 Activities - Risk Assessment

·        Unity Insurance

·        ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of accidents)


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