Inflatable bouncing devices

Every year accidents occur from the use of inflatable bouncing devices/ bouncy castles, resulting in injuries to users.

In view of the number of accidents recorded, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) publishes guidelines to manufacturers and users of such equipment.

These notes are intended to provide some guidance to those proposing to hire and use inflatable bouncy castles as part of a fund-raising event, fête or a private function.

Before children use the equipment, ensure that:

  • there are no high winds;
  • the surfaces are dry;
  • the inflatable device is moored to the ground using every anchor point provided and has been situated in a place of suitable safety;
  • there are impact absorbing mats covering hard surfaces to the open side(s) of the equipment;
  • there is someone in constant supervision;
  • a rota system for age/ size groups is strictly observed. It is recommended that children over 10 should not use the equipment;
  • all users remove their shoes, jewellery or other articles which could cause injury;
  • the weather is suitable for the planned activity;
  • the operators are insured and PIPA registered and that you have followed all guidelines issued by them.

The equipment should be hired from a reputable company and wherever possible set up and operated by the hire company’s own employees. This is particularly important if substantial numbers of children are likely to use the equipment.

Before hiring the apparatus, it is prudent to ensure that the hire company:

  • employs suitably experienced and trained personnel, where the company are responsible for setting up, operation and supervision of the bouncy castle;
  • provides written instructions on the use of the equipment;
  • provides written evidence of a current public liability insurance policy with a limit of indemnity of at least £2,000,000. This insurance is to cover the liability of the hire company and is unlikely to extend to cover the hirer of the equipment;
  • is a member of the PIPA scheme developed in partnership with the Health and Safety Executive. You can check for this on . This site also provides valuable additional information.

If you are to operate the bouncy castle, in addition to the above, it is advisable that you are provided with written instructions about the safe setting up, operation and supervision of the equipment and that the name and address of the manufacturer is clearly marked upon it.

All inflatable play equipment that falls within the scope of the PIPA Scheme should carry a PIPA Tag and be listed in the database linked to the website detailed above.


It is not advisable to:

  • allow the use of inflatable equipment if there is a high wind or wet weather - inflatable devices can flip over and slippery surfaces may cause injury;
  • deflate the inflatable whilst in use - users can strike the ground heavily if this happens;
  • throw objects (or other people) on to the inflatable;
  • allow use of the inflatable if you have any doubts as to its safety;
  • allow use of the inflatable without constant adult supervision - if one person is collecting money, they cannot also provide suitable supervision - The vast majority of accidents occur through lack of or poor supervision. Not providing adequate supervision can make you liable for resulting injuries;
  • allow use of the equipment by more than the number recommended in the hire company's safety instructions. There must be no overcrowding;
  • allow users to climb on to the walls or allow horseplay. Most accidents happen through lack of supervision;
  • allow eating or drinking whilst on the inflatable.