With summer come numerous festivals, parades and public events. Though bouncy castles and other inflatable structures are often children’s preferred attraction, they are also sometimes linked to injuries. It is recommended that – whether on land or on water – bouncy castles and inflatables be set up, managed and torn down by the organization that is providing them. The organization managing them should provide a certificate of insurance with a minimum of 5 million CAD in Commercial General Liability which shows the addition of your municipality as an additional insured. We recommend you have the contract reviewed by an insurance professional. In addition to a certificate, it is good practice to ensure the organization providing the inflatable has a valid permit and checks the item regularly to ensure it is up to code.
In the event that your municipality is managing the inflatable structure, it is important to obtain written instructions from the manufacturer or professional operator from which you are renting the device. It is considered a best practice to still have a third party organization fully responsible for the set-up, operation and tear down of an inflatable.
The following steps are standard best practices when setting-up inflatables:
- The area where the inflatable will be set up should be inspected for sharp objects and be on level ground.
- The inflatable must be adequately secured to the ground and located away from obstacles like fences or overhead power lines.
- Soft matting covering hard surfaces must be placed adjacent to the front or open sides.
- Ensure that the blower unit used to inflate the device is situated at least 1-2 metres from the inflatable - serious injuries may occur if a user strikes the blower.
- Position the anchoring system and mechanical equipment so that they will not cause anyone entering or exiting the device to trip.
- Check for rips and tears and ensure the generator is CSA-approved.
- Ensure the device is fully inflated before use.
Below are recommendations to ensure the safety of participants when inflatables are in use:
- There should be responsible adult supervision, paying close attention to the children at play at all times during the inflatable’s use.
- Children should not be allowed to use the bouncy castle in high wind or wet weather (inflatables can flip over and slippery surfaces may cause injury).
- All children must be made to remove footwear, hard or sharp objects such as jewellery, buckles, pens and other similar pocket contents. Eating inside the inflatable or performing acrobatics must not be allowed.
- Do not allow children to perform any stunts while in the inflatable (flips, wrestling, etc.).
- The number of children using the bouncy castle must be limited to the number recommended in the hired company's safety instructions. There must be no overcrowding.
- A ROTA system for different age or size groups should be operated, together with the observance of an age limit of users.
Remember to ensure that all structures are set-up properly and well secured, that rules are clearly posted and communicated, and that all attendees are supervised. Download our Bouncy Castles Checklist (PDF) for standard best practices to consider when using inflatables. For further information, please contact Robin McCleave, Vice President – Risk Management on our Public Sector team, at ClientFirst@jltcanada.com.