I am often called the “Safety Lady” in my neighborhood and I take great pride in that, despite my girl’s embarrassment. I am a pediatric trauma injury prevention coordinator for Children’s Hospital, and summer is the hardest time of year for me. Now that the weather is getting warmer and school is almost out, we will unfortunately begin to see a lot more kids being admitted to the hospital.
One area of concern for those in field is the use of trampolines.
Are trampolines something to have fun on or something to be feared? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, trampolines are simply too dangerous for children to use outside of a structured sports training program with proper supervision. Citing nearly 100,000 trampoline-related injuries in 2009, the Academy noted that installing safety nets and having adults nearby do not seem to affect the occurrence of injuries.
Parents often view trampolines simply as recreational equipment that keeps children busy, but trampolines are not toys. Injuries on trampolines can have very dangerous ramifications. Research shows that 75 percent of trampoline injuries occur when more than one person is jumping on the mat. The youngest kids are at greatest risk for significant injury, including fractures of the legs and spine.
To repeat: the AAP recommends avoiding recreational trampoline use entirely.
In spite of these warnings, kids love bouncing on them and in my neighborhood almost every other home has them. Trampoline injuries are not just freak accidents. They follow a pattern and may be prevented.
If parents choose to allow their children to jump on trampolines, the academy says that:
- Trampoline use should be restricted to a single jumper on the mat at any given time.
- Trampolines should have adequate protective padding that is in good condition and appropriately placed.
- Trampolines should be set at ground level whenever possible or on a level surface and in an area cleared of any surrounding hazards.
- Frequent inspection and appropriate replacement of protective padding, net enclosure, and any other damaged parts should occur.
- Trampolines should be discarded if replacement parts are unavailable and the product is worn or damaged.
- Children should not perform somersaults and flips in the recreational setting; these are among the most common causes of permanent and devastating cervical spine injuries.
- Children should be actively supervised at all times by adults familiar with these safety guidelines.
- Homeowners should verify that their insurance policies cover trampoline-related claims. Coverage is highly variable.
If you do decide to purchase or use a trampoline this summer, remember that it is not as harmless as it may seem.