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Bouncy castle safety warning as 1.5 million due to be inflated next week for private parties

10 million adults in England will be hosting a garden party next week during the May and June half-term break according to a YouGov poll published this week and 15 per cent intend to hire a bouncy castle for their event – meaning as many as 1.5 million inflatables will be in use in private gardens over the holiday week, yet new research has also revealed that one in three (32 per cent) of bouncy castle operators are not up-to-date with inflatable inspections after the lockdown.

The research, released by the Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII) – an international body for training inflatable inspectors and operators – and national inflatable inspection scheme PIPA – also reveals that 33 per cent of UK adults don’t know what to ask regarding the safety of the bouncy castle at the point of booking one. Yet despite this, almost one in 10 (9 percent) of all UK adults have witnessed an accident or injury on a bouncy castle, many of which could be prevented.

The RPII and PIPA have joined forces to launch a new campaign called #BounceSafe, supported by singer and mum-of-two Suzanne Shaw, which aims to get parents and those booking inflatables to take the appropriate safety steps to help ensure safe usage during this summer surge, and reduce the number of accidents and injuries.
Suzanne Shaw, singer and mum said: “After the year we have all had, it’s not a surprise to see millions of people will be hosting garden parties and what better way to entertain the kids than with a bouncy castle. I’m supporting the #BounceSafe campaign to send an important message to parents and those hiring the inflatables at-home to please make sure they ask the right questions when they hire and follow the safety advice on the day to help reduce the number of accidents. We all have a role to play in keeping the kids bouncing safe and it’s so important to supervise the inflatable at all times.”

The campaign is calling for people who hire bouncy castles for at-home use to do three things:

Ask the 3 key questions of the operator at the point when they hire

  1. Do you have a PIPA tag and number, are you insured and have you done the RPII operator training during the last 3 years?
  2. Supervise the bouncy castle at all times once the operator leaves a private at-home event.
  3. Follow simple safety advice during the event and brief users about the rules before they go on.

Bouncy castles are popular with parents with over a quarter (28 percent) of all UK parents with children saying they have hired a bouncy castle in the past. When it comes to supervision, three quarters (73 percent) of all adults do not know that if they have hired the bouncy castle, they are fully and legally responsible for the safety of the children on it when the operator leaves the event whilst one in four (24 percent) have witnessed bouncy castles being completely unsupervised while children are on it.

The inflatables industry has been hit hard during the COVID pandemic. The RPII’s research reveals that 56 percent of operators have suffered financially with 70 percent having to temporarily close the business, 24 per cent furlough staff and 50 percent adapt their business model over the last 12 months. The research also reveals the support from the public for the industry as one in seven (15 percent) want to support their local inflatables business after the lockdown.

Matthew Sweed, Technical Director of Inflatables at the RPII, said: “We are launching our #BounceSafe campaign today to help keep children all over the UK bouncing safely this summer and reduce the number of accidents and injuries. By following some simple safety advice, everyone can play an important part in the safe hiring and safe usage of inflatables. As part of the campaign we are also urging all inflatable operators to ensure their castles are up to date with their annual inspection and that operators have also participated in our operator training programme during the last 3 years.”

The RPII’s research also revealed that, of those that have hired a bouncy castle, over a quarter (28 per cent) did not check with the inflatable operator that the inflatable had been inspected prior to use, 22 percent did not check with the inflatable operator that they had the correct insurance and 24 percent did not check with the inflatable operator that they had been trained in how to operate it.

And when attending a garden party with a bouncy castle, 26 percent said there were too many children on the bouncy castle at any one time, a quarter (25 percent) said they saw children climbing on the bouncy castle walls which is the most common cause of accidents, and 24 percent said the inflatable was completely unsupervised during the event whilst it was in use.

Sweed continued: “It’s really important that those hiring the inflatable supervise the users at all times after the operator leaves. We know it’s something not all parents are aware of, but it has a huge impact on accident rates.

As part of the #BounceSafe campaign, the RPII is launching a new digital training programme for all bouncy castle operators which they can complete online and a new website for hirers to access simple safety information – www.bouncesafe.org.uk.

The RPII is the official body for examining, accrediting and certificating indoor, outdoor and inflatable play inspectors.

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