Jumping on the trampoline is a popular summer activity for children. However, many parents don’t realize the danger that lies in allowing children to jump unsupervised or by allowing more than one child to jump at a time. In fact, most parents don’t realize, either, the great number of injuries that result from the use of trampolines. For example, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons cites that hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and clinics treated 211,646 trampoline injuries sustained by children under the age of 19 in 2003 alone. Moreover, young children ages 5 to 10 are particularly at risk: 102, 017 trampoline-related injuries for this age group were treated in emergency rooms, doctors’ offices and clinics in 2003 as well. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems as if this is the age group that enjoys jumping the most.
The most common types of injuries associated with trampoline use are sprains and fractures, which are often severe. Although severe injuries are not common, they still do occur and can lead to paralysis and even death.
The AAOS recommends the following safety tips if you do allow your children to use a trampoline:
- All activities involving the trampoline, including physical education, competitive gymnastics, and diving training require careful adult supervision and proper safety measures.
- Trampolines should not be used for unsupervised recreational activity.
- Competent adult supervision and instruction is needed at all times for children.
- Only one child at a time should jump on the trampoline.
- Spotters should be present when participants are jumping. Somersaults and other high-risk “tricks” should be avoided altogether unless there is proper protective equipment such as a harness.
- The trampoline should be placed on level ground.
- Supporting bars, strings and surrounding landing surfaces should have adequate protective padding.
- Equipment should be checked regularly for safety conditions.
- Safety net enclosures do not mean there will be no injuries. In fact, most injuries occur on the trampoline surface.
- Trampolines should not be used by children under 6.
- Trampoline ladders should be removed after use to ensure that young children do not attempt to use the trampoline without adult supervision.
Remember, it is probably best to avoid trampoline use. But if you can’t abstain, remember safety first.