Bouncy castles are a sure-fire way to brighten up any funfair however without the right precautions in place, they can also pose as a serious danger. 31 year old Welsh mum Nicola Cluckie found this out the hard way when she watched on as a bouncy castle deflated with her three year old son Ollie trapped inside.
The event unfolded at the Jan de Koning funfair in Prestatyn, where Nicola decided to treat Ollie to a play on the bouncy castle. Just minutes later she heard screams from parents and children as the bouncy castle started to deflate before their eyes. She recalls the “sheer panic” she experienced as her toddler disappeared into the collapsing giant inflatable toy.
“Ollie had gone on the bouncy castle with my friend’s little girl and, as we stood behind the safety gate, we could see it starting to deflate,” she recalls. “I went into a sheer panic, as I’d last seen him going down the slide into the tiger’s mouth and after that he just seemed to have vanished.”
In a state of panic Nicola jumped over a metal barricade and tried desperately to locate her son. “There were kids and parents screaming and people were trying to get onto the bouncy castle to claw their children off. Somehow, I managed to jump over the metal fencing to do the same.” She describes the experience as a “real-life nightmare” and is shocked that the ordeal occurred in the first place.
Shockingly, the bouncy castle operators offered very little sympathy. While they were willing to refund ticket money there was no apology in sight. “I was so upset I went to the ticket counter to complain and ask for my money back. I was given a refund but no apology,” says Nicola. According to Jan de Koning, the incident was caused by an electrical fault. This tripped a switch which cut power to the inflatable and caused it to collapse. The bouncy castle owner was alarmingly blasé about the incident, maintaining that “there was no danger to life or limb.” He adds that “in any case, the bouncy castle takes between five and 10 minutes to fully deflate. It doesn’t go down instantly. Overall it was a very uneventful incident.”
Regardless of the fault, the incident highlights the fact that bouncy castle insurance should be considered of the upmost importance for any inflatables hire business. Without it, owners take the risk of having to cover the cost of any public liability claims, as well as damage to equipment, employee injury and more.