If you are hiring out bouncy castles and other inflatables then safety should be your prime consideration. Here is a list of 11 considerations to keep in mind.
1. Insurance: check that your insurance cover is high enough. Levels change from time to time, so I am not going to state any here. It is your responsibility to consult an insurer and make sure that you have the right level of cover.
2. Construction: the material used for making your bouncy castle should be soft, flexible, and fire resistant, but it should also be very strong. The material will either be strong PVC or nylon. When inflated, the bouncy castle should not deform under the load of a group of children. The bouncy castle should give a good bounce. As a bouncy castle buyer, have the seller inflate the castle so you can test it out.
3. Inspection: inspect your bouncy castles regularly for signs of wear. Older bouncy castles are prone to wear around the seams, were the bed meets the walls, and you will find that older castles deliver a poor bounce. Once a bouncy castle has reached the end of its life, get a replacement. Do not press a castle into service for longer than you know is safe to do so. Lives may be at risk if you do.
4. Warranty: be aware of the warranty period on your bouncy castles, and take up any faults with the manufacturer if these appear in the warranty period. Enquire about the warranty expiry date before buying a bouncy castle.
5. Anchorage points: Anchorage points provide the bouncy castle with stability. Look carefully at the number of anchorage points that you use and make sure that you use at least the number recommended in the bouncy castle manual. If in doubt, contact the bouncy castle manufacturer. The bigger the bouncy castle, the greater the number of anchorage points it should have.
6. Height of the castle walls: the walls of the bouncy castle should be high enough to prevent children climbing over alone or assisting each other – like a jail break! If the walls of the bouncy castle are too short, there is always a danger that the children will climb and fall to the hard ground on the other side.
7. Load Limit: read the load limit of the castle in the operating manual. The bouncy castle operating manual should mention the number of people allowed to enter the bouncy castle at one time. Enforce this limit.
8. Air circulation: air circulation in the castle should not be restricted. Children using the castle will get out of breath very quickly, so make sure that if you are using the castle inside, say, in a community hall, that there is adequate ventilation.
9. Escape points: in case of emergency, always be sure that children can make a safe exit from your bouncy castle, and the surrounding area. If you set up a bouncy castle in doors, make yourself aware of the fire exits in the building.
10. Hazardous objects: don’t put your bouncy castle near any dangerous objects. Remember that children have a habit of seeking such objects out, so make sure that when you set up the castle such object are well out of sight.
11. Area around the bouncy castle: Cover the open field around the bounty castle with soft thick mats. You can’t have too many of these, especially at the entrance/exit, from which children will often tumble out.
Author: Stephen Turner www.bouncycastle-web.co.uk