A new national safety standard for bouncy castles and other inflatable amusement devices will take effect on July 1 in the wake of several fatal accidents.
Released in February by the State Administration for Market Regulation and the Standardization Administration of China, the new rules address several key risk areas and lay out clear requirements for anchoring and ballasting to stabilize the structures and keep them grounded.
Inflatable amusements such as bouncy castles and slides are popular with children and can be seen in many playgrounds, public squares and residential communities. However, there has been little safety regulation of the inflatable products, resulting in frequent accidents, the administration said on its website. It added that quality and safety had become pressing issues.
On the afternoon of May 2, a whirlwind flipped an inflatable castle in a public square in Laiyuan county, Hebei province, killing two children and injuring seven.
Three people were detained by the police.
“A whirlwind lasts a short time, moves fast and is hard to monitor with sensors,” a meteorological station staff member from Laiyuan county told China National Radio. “The bouncy castle is usually very light and can be easily lifted up in such weather.”
A similar incident occurred on March 31, when a whirlwind struck in Yucheng county, Henan province, and blew a bouncy playhouse high into the air. Two children died and 20 other people were injured, including two adults, local officials said.
The previous safety regulations on inflatable amusement equipment mainly addressed issues such as height and speed, failing to take into account the dangers.
“In recent years, amusement equipment such as bouncy castles have become popular, and so the risks have become apparent,” Zhang Yong, one of the main drafters of the new standards, told China Quality Daily, an official newspaper of the State Administration for Market Regulation.
He added that it was urgent to have strict rules for the production and supervision of such facilities.
After studying recent accidents at home and abroad, the drafting team concluded that wind resistance is the biggest problem. The inflatable structures act like giant kites, so they must be anchored to the ground.
The new standards set clear requirements for anchoring and ballast systems, as well as for structural integrity, electrical installations, player limits, safety labeling and emergency procedures.
Zhang said the new rules will promote standard procedures for small operators and the entire industry to improve safety.