Trampolines seem so great, especially now as families hunker down at home to stay safe from the coronavirus. It gets the kids off the screens, outdoors and exercising, all in the quarantined comfort of your own backyard. How could something that makes them so happy and active be bad?
But there’s a dark side to trampolines. They have a bad reputation in pediatric emergency rooms because there’s so many ways to get hurt.
Jumpers can land on the springs or frame or get hurt while attempting stunts like somersaults. Many serious injuries occur when children fall off trampolines or collide into a fellow jumper. And the “super bounce,” when one smaller child is bounced by an older kid, can be especially lethal, sending children soaring to tremendous heights and ending in a hard landing.
“Trampolines are my least favorite toy ever,” said Heather Trnka, injury prevention coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital. “There is very little that you can do to prevent injuries. In my career, I have seen incredibly severe injuries of both children and adults from simply jumping on a trampoline. Many insurance home policies do not allow a trampoline to be on the property for this reason.”
Nationwide Insurance collects statistics about trampoline injuries and the most common areas of injury are:
- Legs and feet, 40%
- Arms or hands, 29%
- Head, face or neck, 20%
- Shoulder or trunk, 10%
Here’s a sobering statistic to ponder: about 246,875 medically-treated trampoline injuries occur annually in the United States, with 75% of these injuries occurring in children 14 or younger.
Improper use of a trampoline can even result in death. Most victims are teenagers, ages 12 to 19. Falls from the trampoline were the most frequent cause of death, followed by landing on the neck while attempting somersaults.
Trampoline Do’s & Don’ts
Staying at home is supposed to help keep your kids safe during these uncertain times. But having a trampoline is certainly a big risk. If you must have one, here’s a safety checklist for parents.
- One jumper at a time: If you have a trampoline, only allow one jumper at a time. Many injuries occur when children of different sizes and ages jump together and are bounced off the trampoline or fall on each other. Statistics show that these injuries are the most severe.
- Must be older than 6: No kids under age 6 should be using a trampoline. Children under 6 are especially at risk and were treated for about 15% of trampoline injuries in hospital emergency rooms. This is because a young child’s weight is so low, heavier older kids can bounce them to soaring heights.
- Safety nets can only do so much: Keep 8 feet around the trampoline clear, and enclose the trampoline with a safety net. Don’t rely on safety nets, though, as most of the injuries happen on the jumping surface. Make sure to cover its springs, hooks and frames with trampoline safety pads. Never place a trampoline on concrete, asphalt or other hard surfaces. Regularly check the trampoline for wear and tear and don’t use if compromised. Don’t allow kids to jump on a wet trampoline.
- Properly dismount: Kids should never jump off of the trampoline straight to the ground. Have them stop jumping, walk to the edge, sit and slide off.
- Adult supervision: Making sure the kids follow the rules is of utmost importance. An adult willing to be vigilant and enforce the rules always needs to be present when kids are using a trampoline.