Ecclesiastical Insurance Cautions Against the Unregulated Use of Bouncy Castles and Other Inflatable Amusement Devices

The type of amusement ride known as a bouncy castle, jumping house, or inflatable bouncer has become an extremely popular attraction at events such as fairs, fundraisers and special activity days. Children clearly enjoy jumping around on a bouncy castle’s inflated floor or sliding down an inflatable slide. However, while these air-supported structures look harmless, there are real injury risks associated with them particularly when they are misused, operated without adequate adult supervision or used in adverse weather conditions.

A comprehensive study published in Safety Science, vol. 62 (February 2014) revealed that the U.S. national number and rate of pediatric inflatable bouncer-related injuries increased 15-fold from 1995 to 2010 with the rate more than doubling between 2008 and 2010 alone. This study is mirrored in a Canadian study, Emergency department presentation for injuries associated with inflatable amusement structure, Canada, 1990-2009 available on the Government of Canada’s website: Chronic Diseases and Injuries in Canada, Volume 33 – Number 3 – June 2013.

Safety Authorities in every province and territory in Canada regulate the use of amusement park devices such as bouncy castles. Such use is subject to licensing and inspection certification, insurance requirements and safety certification for operators. However, bouncy castles are no longer the sole purview of amusement parks and are readily available to the public for private use. Unregulated and increased use of these devices has resulted in a sharp increase in injuries.

Colin Robertson, Vice President, Risk Control, at Ecclesiastical Insurance, advises that organizations that intend to rent an inflatable amusement device should focus on four areas of risk reduction:

  1. Advance Planning
  2. Safe Set up
  3. Safe operation
  4. Awareness of the Weather

Ecclesiastical has published a bulletin (Bouncy Castles and Other Inflatable Amusement Rides: Safety Issues and Best Practices for Set-up and Use) and a safety checklist (Best Practices for the Safe Set-up and Operation of an Inflatable Amusement Devise) which explain and expand on the four areas of risk reduction and offer comprehensive step-by-step guidelines to organizations wishing to provide a safe and fun bouncy castle experience.

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