There are two sides to trampolines. On the one hand, they pack tons of fun and health benefits for users of all ages. On the other side, they are among the leading causes of fractured bones and sprained ankles (among other injuries) in the USA.
For the record, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are over 100,000 trampoline-related injuries in US hospitals annually.
There’s no arguing that these trampoline injuries statistics are worrying, especially coming from a tool that most of us perceive as oh-so-fun. And at a time when most families are spending a big chunk of their time at home due to Covid-19 restrictions, we’ll all agree that something needs to be done.
In a 2002-2011 study on fractures caused by trampolines, the researchers determined that around 95% of trampoline injuries happened at home. However, although the cases are significantly lower, trampoline parks’ injuries tend to be more severe. The researchers explain that this increased severity in trampoline park injuries could be due to less coordination when the jumpers are doing complex maneuvers.
Experts point out that the most common trampoline injuries occur when 2 (or more) jumpers collide when bouncing at the same time.
Other common causes of injuries include;
i) Landing on the trampoline frame and springs.
ii) Trampoline tricks gone wrong, leading to dangerous landings.
iii) Falling off the trampoline only to land on concrete, stones, other people, bikes, and fences.
- Broken bones
- Bruises, scrapes, and cuts
- Sprains and strains
- Head injuries, including concussions
- Neck and spinal injuries
While there’s an aspect of danger in trampolines, there are various steps that parents and guardians can take to prevent or lower the chances of jumpers getting hurt. Here are tips to make your trampoline safer:
It isn’t easy to put children off the trampoline. However, you should put into consideration that small kids are at a much greater chance of getting hurt when jumping on a trampoline than big children. The American College of Orthopedic Surgeons says that trampolines shouldn’t be allowed for kids below 6 years. This is because kids below this age have relatively brittle bones that can’t withstand repetitive high bounces. Small trampolines for kids with reduced bounce might be a good place to start for this age group.
A critical aspect when buying a trampoline is the siting. The ideal location to set up a trampoline is a level ground- not a sloppy area. When installed in a hilly area, the trampoline can easily gravitate down the slope, increasing the risk of accidents.
Ideally, you should set up the trampoline on firm grass and not concrete. Besides increasing the risk of injuries if the jumpers fall off, hard surfaces, such as tarmac and concrete, add challenges when trying to secure the trampoline using anchor kits.
Importantly, there need to be enough vertical clearance. Don’t put the trampoline under trees, branches, overhead cables, and close to the roof. Just as important as vertical clearance, the area around the trampoline should be devoid of objects that could exacerbate accidents, such as fences, swings, climbing frames, walls, rocks, and bikes and toys.
The best trampolines are engineered with quality materials and designed to withstand inclement weather. That’s a good thing because no one wants to assemble and disassemble 14ft and 15ft trampolines every other day. However, the fact that these fun tools are designed to be durable doesn’t mean that they are ever-ready and safe for your family.
Before your jumpers hop on the trampoline, let an adult do a thorough inspection of the integrity of the entire rig. Check whether the legs are stable and if the springs are nicely covered. Also, don’t forget to check the condition of the safety net. We would also suggest inspecting the joints on the frame at least once a month if you live in regions with severe corrosion and rusting.
Spring pads are among the most important safety components for a trampoline. Impressively, it’s almost becoming a requirement to include spring pads in the package. These pads are used to cover the spring system. A thick spring pad helps a lot in preventing trampoline knee injuries, cuts, and lacerations. On this note, having the spring pad in a distinct color from the jumping mat will make it more visible to the jumpers.
The debate on whether trampoline safety net is important is still going on. Although the jury is still out on this issue, most experts agree that an enclosure can lower trampoline-related injuries by up to 50%. If you’re buying a new trampoline, consider a brand that includes the net in the package. Also, a net that attaches directly to the mat is a relatively safer option. If your trampoline didn’t come with one, enquire from your manufacturer whether it’s possible to purchase it separately.
Having multiple jumpers bouncing at the same time adds to the fun. Unfortunately, the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) notes that the worst trampoline accidents happen when there are 2 or more jumpers on the mat. When there are multiple jumpers, the risk of collisions and landing on the frame, springs, and even on the ground tends to double. Needless to say, this increases the risk of trampoline back injuries and head and neck injuries, which could change your family’s life in an instant. That’s why it’s advisable to have only 1 jumper at a time.
There’s nothing that your children can’t do once adrenaline kicks in. We’ve seen all sorts of dangerous and super risky trampoline stunts, including jumping from roofs onto the mat. Whether your kids are likely to do this or not, do not allow them on the trampoline without supervision from an adult.