Giant inflatables are fun but can be deadly! Before junior gets on one, wise up to steps to protect them.

Your mini-dynamo can’t get enough of bouncy castles and other inflatables. Full of fun, their eye-catching colours and awesome designs pack quite an appeal for junior.

Nor would you think twice about letting your child play on one. After all, these springy playthings found in pasar malams, carnivals, family-friendly restaurants on weekends and even as a birthday party highlight seem pretty safe. Right?

Not so much. On 1 July, a 3-year-old girl named Ava-May Littleboy reportedly died of a head injury after she was flung off an inflatable trampoline at Gorleston Beach in Norfolk, the UK. This tragic incident took place after the inflatable exploded from the heat of the day.

“Operators of the ride will need to apply to BCA for both an installation permit and operating permit”

There have also been other previous reports of children and adult deaths on giant inflatables as a result of incidents. These include the installations being lifted up and blown away. Yet others have been injured as a result of falling down or off the apparatus, or colliding with other kids.

Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) regulates inflatables through the Amusement Rides Safety Act. SmartParents approached the BCA for safety tips parents should take note of when their offspring play on bouncy castles and inflatables.

A BCA spokesman notes that its regulations are in line with international amusement ride safety practices, including Hong Kong and the United States. The standards include requiring inflatable operators to:

* Maintain the air pressure using blowers within the structure.
* Have proper ground anchors to prevent upheaval by wind.
* Provide proper entry and exit.

He states that before a ride^ is open to the public, the operators are required to apply to BCA for both installation and operating permits, as well as get approval from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on its fire and rescue management system.

Before you let your mini-me loose on a bouncy castle or inflatable, keep in mind these child safety tips:

1) Take note that the inflatable is well managed

Check that the bouncy castle is securely and firmly fastened to the ground. Do also note if crowd control is available. Too many kids on the apparatus may pose a danger as the likelihood of collisions among the children will increase.

Parents should always supervise their children while they play on the inflatable” to ensure that junior is playing safely.

2) Beware of the other children’s sizes

For everyone’s safety, if your little one is smaller or larger than the other kids playing on the inflatable, don’t let your child get on! The Royal Society For The Prevention Of Accidents (Rospa) in the UK says that only kids of similar sizes should be playing on the inflatable at the same time to prevent accidents in which the bigger kids collide with smaller children.

3) Remove any sharp objects

Rospa advises that your child remove their shoes and other sharp objects, such as accessories, before getting on an inflatable.

4) Wise up to the safety guidelines

Before letting your child on, the BCA spokesman advises that parents get familiar with the ride’s dos and don’ts and make sure all safety instructions are well understood and followed.” He notes that this information should put up as safety posters at the ride’s entrance. If you don’t see these notices, approach the ride operator for clarification, or don not put your munchkin on the inflatable.

5) Always keep an eye on your little one!

The BCA spokesperson notes that regulatory system aside, parents play an important role in safeguarding their child. He notes that “parents should always supervise their children while they play on the inflatable” to ensure that junior is playing safely.

^ Only inflatables (i) larger than 150sq m; or (ii) with an enclosed space larger than 30sq m; or (iii) taller than 5m are regulated.

Photo: iStock

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