Trampolines are a common outdoor toy that parents give to their children. Jumping on them can be great fun, especially for younger kids. They encourage exercise, delight children, and can give parents a much needed respite from having to distract and entertain their kids.
However, trampolines carry risks. While they are a mainstay for many households, allowing your child to play on a trampoline may end with a visit to the ER doctor.
Trampoline Injuries Are Surprisingly Common
While trampolines are commonly thought of as a safe way for kids to have fun, trampolines easily pose a danger to children. Approximately 100,000 people are injured from using a trampoline each year. In fact, between the years of 2002 and 2011, one million people were sent to the emergency room because of trampoline injuries. The medical costs of these injuries over the 10 year period was over one billion dollars.
The overwhelming majority of these emergency room visits were children. In fact, nearly 93% of them were 16 years old and younger. Those sent to the emergency room with spinal injuries tended to be teenagers. Many teens are reckless and try dangerous things, leading to greater risk of more serious injury.
Some of these injuries can be exceedingly serious. Nearly 10% of trampoline injuries require hospitalization. One in 200 trampoline injuries results in permanent neurological damage.
The majority of trampoline injuries occur when multiple people are jumping on it at the same time. Younger children are also at the biggest risk for injuries. Small children who jump on trampolines with older kids or adults are 14 times more likely to be injured than their jumping companion. In many cases, it is the older person jumping on the trampoline that lands on the smaller child, causing the injury.
Should I Buy A Trampoline?
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that children under the age of 6 never be allowed to use a trampoline. The American Academy of Pediatrics argues that trampolines should not be used for children of any age.
These organizations have formed their opinion based on review of safety data. However, many parents will likely purchase trampolines for their children anyways. By being aware of risks and making smart choices, you can select one that is safer for children.
What Are The Safest Trampolines for Kids?
The safest trampolines will be surrounded by netting that prevents children from jumping off the trampoline. Jumping off the trampoline and landing on the ground below accounts for many trampoline injuries.
They will also have safety padding on outside railings to prevent injury. Children can potentially fall onto hard metal railings and easily hurt themselves. Look for trampolines that have protective padding on the harder components to keep your child safe.
There are also smaller kids trampolines that can be used indoors. These are much smaller and lower to the ground than their larger counterparts. Falls from these trampolines will be less dangerous and less likely to cause serious injury.
What Parents Can Do to Lower Their Risk
If your child absolutely insists on having a trampoline, there are a number of things that you can do to help minimize their risk of injury.
- Never allow children on the trampoline without adult supervision. Even when using smaller kids trampolines, an adult should be present at all times.
- Ensure that the trampoline always has its safety equipment. Check it often. If side netting and rail padding become damaged or broken, replace or repair them.
- Don’t allow children to do somersaults, flips or similar tricks on a trampoline.
- Only allow one child to jump on a trampoline at a time.
- Don’t allow children younger than 6 years of age on a trampoline, even the smaller varieties.
- Make sure that children stay near the center of the trampoline. Do not jump around near the sides.
- For larger trampolines, make sure the ladder to climb onto the trampoline is detachable. Parents can store the ladder while the trampoline is not in use, preventing children from climbing onto it unsupervised.
As with all kinds of outdoor play equipment, it is impossible to totally eliminate risk of injury. However, the above strategies can help parents minimize the likelihood of ending the day in an emergency room with their child.
Trampolines Can Be Fun for Kids, but Parents Should Be Careful
Trampolines can be great fun for children, but parents should be aware of the dangers. If you want to allow your child to have one, consider buying them a children’s trampoline only once they are old enough.
When buying larger trampolines, always set ground rules with your children and supervise their time with the equipment. Be mindful of any safety features and always check to make sure they remain undamaged. Attentive parenting can go a long way to keep your child from needing an ER doctor.