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By Spencers Solicitors

  Laura Reaney    
  July 18, 2018

The Dangers of Inflatables

I was so deeply saddened last week to hear the news about the tragic death of 3 year old Ava-May Littleboy after she was thrown from an inflatable trampoline on a beach in Norfolk. What should have been a fun and enjoyable day out with her family turned into her every parent’s worst nightmare. I myself have a daughter who’s 7 and it really upset me to think this could have happened to my child. This could happen to any family and sadly it seems to be happening more and more.

No end of times have we been out somewhere and my daughter has spotted a bouncy castle and begged me to let her go on it. I’ve always said ‘yes’ with no hesitation whatsoever, but I must admit I’m much more cautious now when it comes to saying yes.

Within the space of just a couple of years we’ve had the tragic deaths of two small children while on some sort of inflatable. These things are supposed to be fun for children, not dangerous and I have to agree with calls for an urgent investigation into the regulation of inflatables.

I understand the recent death of Ava-May Littleboy has led to a call for bouncy castles to be temporarily banned from public areas, with Havant Borough Council in Hampshire having already banned inflatables at any events taking place on their land. It is my opinion that a temporarily ban in all public areas should be considered until a proper investigation has taken place into the regulation of inflatables.

In 2016 we heard the tragic story of 7 year old Summer Grant who was killed when the bouncy castle she was on at a fun fair blew away. It was found that the bouncy castle had not been securely anchored to the ground. The weather conditions hadn’t been monitored properly either. There were strong winds on that day, and the country had been told to brace itself for Storm Katie’s arrival the following day. The two fairground workers involved in this incident were jailed for manslaughter by gross negligence last month.

Here’s a few things to think about before letting your child use inflatable equipment:

  1. Consider where the inflatable is, .e.g. at a fun fair? On the beach? At an organised event? At a party? Do the suppliers / staff appear competent? You want to know that your child is going to be safe so if any alarm bells start ringing just walk away and don’t take the risk.
  2. Is there at least 1 adult supervising at ALL times at the front of the inflatable? If not, then the equipment shouldn’t be inflated.
  3. What are the current weather conditions like? Windy? Wet? Any kind of inflatable is potentially very dangerous in certain conditions.
  4. Check how the inflatable is fixed to the ground? It is securely fastened to each of the anchor points? It is positioned away from possible hazards such as fences/overhead power lines? Do you yourself think it looks secure and safe? If not don’t let your child use it.
  5. Is there a height / age restriction to use the inflatable? Is there a limit on how many children should be allowed on the inflatable at any one time? Inflatables of any type should never be overcrowded, it’s dangerous.
  6. If the inflatable is positioned on a hard surface there should be soft matting at the front, and to the side if there are side openings on the inflatable.

Rather than ban my daughter from going on inflatable equipment ever again, I have just become much more vigilant – please do the same to ensure your child stays safe.

About the Author

Laura Reaney is a Paralegal within our Serious Injury Team.

Laura, who joined the team in 1998, originally started as an office junior before training as a Litigator. After gaining extensive experience within personal injury, Laura now specialises in assisting on complex and high value personal injury claims. Over the years she has assisted senior Solicitors in dealing with accident claims involving amputations, serious spinal injuries resulting in permanent disability, brain, head injuries and fatal accidents.

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