Consumer rights

Inspector says 'an awful lot' of bouncy castles haven't been safety-checked

Bouncy castles are one of many holiday-related items people are being warned to ensure they are safety-certified.

shutterstock_315436130 Shutterstock / Olesia Bilkei Shutterstock / Olesia Bilkei / Olesia Bilkei

AN INSPECTOR HAS said that the majority of bouncy castles for rent in Ireland haven’t gone through the required safety checks.

It comes as the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) warned holidaymakers to be wary of items non-compliant with health and safety checks, from trampolines to festival tents.

Gerard Frawley is a bouncy castle inspector with the Register of Play Inspectors International (RPII) and director of the Irish Inflatable Hirers Federation, a group representing bouncy castle hirers.

He told that according to his rough estimates, only 30% of bouncy castles in Ireland have the proper certificates to prove their safety compliance.

“Some operators disagree with me, but no one thinks it’s more than that,” he said. ”There’s an awful lot of them.”

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission have received less than 10 complaints in relation to both bouncy castles and trampolines.

“In the majority of these contacts consumers were requesting information on how to seek a refund for a faulty item,” a spokesperson said.

“We received one query from a consumer concerned about the safety of a trampoline, in this instance the springs were faulty.”

shutterstock_141570190 Shutterstock / Michal Kocan Shutterstock / Michal Kocan / Michal Kocan

Hundreds of bouncy castle tests take place every year in Ireland to make sure they’re safe to use – similar to an NCT test for cars.

“Blowaways are really the biggest danger to children,” Fawley says.

To test bouncy castles against this particular issues, inspectors check the number and size of the pins holding inflatables in the ground, and use a pulley system to test its strength.

That’s not the only test; there’s a 40-page document from EU that documents what should be tested to ensure the bouncy castles meet safety standards.

“Like the size of the wall at the top of the slide: we check if the walls are secure enough, so that if kids climb up, they can’t fall out,” Fawley says.

Wrist fractures, elbow fractures and collarbone fractures are the most common injuries sustained by children who fall from bouncy castles.

Other injuries can include ankle sprains, shoulder and leg injuries, neck injuries and lacerations and in more serious falls, head injuries.

“A bouncing castle is not a baby sitter. You need to supervise at all times as the majority of accidents happen because of lack of supervision,” Frawley said in an interview in May with Dublin Q102.

shutterstock_291862511 Shutterstock / Oleg Mikhaylov Shutterstock / Oleg Mikhaylov / Oleg Mikhaylov

Warnings to holidaymakers Last week, the NSAI warned people preparing for their holidays to be sure to check that products meet safety standards. They listed six tips as guidance for consumers:

  • When buying sunglasses, check for an ISO 12311 and ISO 12311 symbol to ensure the eyewear offers protection against solar radiation or UV rays. If they don’t have this check, your eyes could get damaged
  • When buying sun cream, make sure you look out for the UVA symbol (see picture below).  A four or five UVA star rating is best for fair skin


  • When buying swimming arm bands, check they meet the relevant standards and display the CE mark. When buying life jackets, the EU breaks down the buoyancy into four classes: 50N, 100N, 150N and 275N
  • When buying a trampoline, make sure it comes with a safety net and a protective pad around the springs and that it also displays the CE marking (this ensures it meets the I.S. EN 13219 standard)
  • Look out for the CE mark and standards on tents and camping equipment before you purchase to ensure the design, structure and fabric used in your tent is reliable, secure and flame retardant.

Fawley’s advice to parents who are booking bouncy castles is to ask at the time of booking for an email of their up-to-date safety certificate, and check that they’re insured.

It’s shocking – someone can buy a bouncy castle, advertise it online and then hire it out to you.

The EU is due to update its inflatable play equipment regulations sometime this year.

Read: Good news for parents – kids are being given free admission to dozens of Irish heritage sites

Read: Children with Leap cards to get free access to public transport for two weeks

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