Bouncy castles warning

Parents warned of  bouncy castle risks

Louise Walsh

Parents are being warned about possible safety dangers when booking a bouncy castle for their children.

Spiralling costs of insurance are leading to some companies foregoing insurance and equipment checks completely, which could put children at risk of serious injury, it has been claimed.

The claims are being made by Gerry Frawley,  head of the Irish Inflatable Hirers Federation which was set up in 2011 to address the need for best practice in the bouncy castle hire and inflatable hire business.

Gerry, from Navan, Co. Meath has almost 30 years experience in the industry and his own company is an inspection body for safety checks on inflatables under European regulations.

However as the busy Confirmation and Communion season starts, Gerry is urging parents who are booking bouncy castles for their children to ensure the company has relevant insurance and safety compliance certificates.

“Rising insurance premiums of 100pc or more are squeezing good people out of the market and some of those that are left are taking risks by deciding to forego insurance,” he said.

“To get insurance, you have to get your bouncy castle or relevant equipment checked but if companies aren’t getting insurance, they are also not bothering to get their equipment assessed for safety.

“There are companies out there telling parents that cover is solely on their own house insurance, which isn’t right.

“Parents can take out additional cover on their own house insurance but each company should have their own liability cover.

“If they don’t have their own insurance, their equipment may not be safe or installed properly.

“I’ve seen cases where children have suffered severe spinal injuries on bouncy castles due to negligence.

"Most accidents on bouncy castles are down to lack of supervision by parents but accidents due to negligence by the companies do happen.

"I run safety courses for operators, controllers and attendants of children on inflatable play equipment covering the operational side of the European Safety Standards.

"Each hired company should advise parents that the castle has to be under supervision at all times and to limit the number of children on it at any one time.  A bouncy castle is not a baby-sitter and those on it have to be watched.

“Unfortunately many reputable companies, because they are paying the extra for testing and insurance are being undercut by the other companies who are putting children at risk quite frankly.

“Parents have the responsibility to their children to make sure the bouncy castle company has insurance and safety certs in order and I can’t stress this enough," he concluded.

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