Kids love trampolines. Look at any neighborhood where kids live and you will find a multitude of trampolines in different shapes and forms. Parents also love trampolines. What better way to get kids to burn off excess energy and give parents some breathing space? But, if trampolines are not set up and used properly, injuries can occur. Here is what you need to know about how to make trampolines safer for kids.
Trampoline injuries are on the rise
Trampoline injuries are on the rise. A recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics found that trampoline accidents were 9.7 times more common in 2016 compared with 2008. The increasing popularity of trampoline parks is a key contributor.
There were over a million trampoline-related ED visits between 2002 and 2011 in the United States, resulting in over one billion dollars spent. Twenty-nine percent (29%) of these injuries were fractures. In New Zealand, trampoline injuries resulted in the government paying out over 4.4 Million NZ dollars for treatment and rehabilitation in 2014. Not all of these injuries were from children either. More than 670 people aged 30 or over made a claim in 2016.
And while most of these adult injuries are said to have been caused from overconfidence, children’s injuries are most often caused by landing awkwardly, usually affecting their lower extremities such as a fractured ankle, lower tibia, or fibula. One study found that younger, preschool-aged children were more likely to fracture their proximal tibia (knee) compared to older children in whom distal tibia (ankle) fractures were more common. Some trampoline-related fractures required surgery to stabilize.
How to make trampolines safer for kids
Despite the risks, trampolining can also result in benefits for children. It can increase cardiovascular fitness and even improve motor function and coordination. If you believe the benefits outweigh the risks and insist on letting children use a trampoline, here are some trampoline safety tips to ensure they do not injure themselves:
1. No children under 6
Children under 6 should not use a trampoline under any circumstances. Their bodies are not developed enough, and their bones are not strong enough to handle the impact of repetitive jumping. Allowing children under six on a trampoline can cause brain and spine injuries as well as organ damage.
2. Always supervise
Parents should always supervise their children when they are bouncing. The presence of an adult can prevent children from messing around. And should an accident happen, the parent is within easy reach of offering first aid.
3. One child at a time
One of the most important tips for trampoline safety is to only have one child bouncing at a time. Several people jumping simultaneously on trampolines is a risk factor for injury. Children often do not have a developed sense of balance so trampolines can bounce them unpredictably. So, allowing two or more children on a trampoline at the same time can cause serious risk for injury.
4. Ensure correct clothing is worn
Children should be wearing safe clothing while using a trampoline. Drawstrings should not be worn as they can get stuck in springs which can cause children to fall off the trampoline or into the springs. Shoes should also not be worn as they can make it more difficult for children to keep balance while jumping. They can also damage the surface of the trampoline creating future hazards. Further, shoelaces can get caught in springs and the enclosure. Long pants should also be considered to prevent grazes and nylon burns.
5. No dangerous tricks
Many trampoline injuries occur when landing incorrectly. Performing tricks, such as flips, should be left in the gymnasium, where there is supervision by trained professionals. Dangerous tricks such as flips can result in spinal and head injuries, which can be devastating for the development of children.
Buying and setting up for trampoline safety
The American Acadamy of Pediatrics recommends that “mini and full-sized trampolines never be used at home, in routine gym classes, or on playgrounds. They should only be used in supervised training programs for gymnastics, diving, or other competitive sports.”
Here is a list of guidelines that should be followed to help establish what trampoline is safest for kids. This is to ensure you are correctly using the safest equipment to minimize injury:
1. Correct trampoline placement
When choosing the perfect spot for the family trampoline, make sure you pick a place that has no obstacles, equipment, poles, fences, debris, or even clotheslines near it. This eliminates any risk of accidental collision or strain during your child’s bouncing time. Placing your trampoline on even ground guarantees that the trampoline stays where it should be.
If you reside in a windy area, you might consider anchoring your trampoline to the ground. Many manufacturers include anchors in their trampoline package. You can also purchase anchors online or at a local hardware store.
2. Always ensure the jumping area is clean
Always check that there are no toys, clothes, leaves, or small branches on trampolines as they can all cause serious problems. You should also perform regular inspections on the trampoline springs, enclosure, and jump surface for damage. You may need to buy replacement parts to substitute any torn or worn-out ones.
2. Buying and setting up for trampoline safety
Investing in a quality trampoline is a must if you wish to guarantee your child plays safely. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will cost you a fortune, as many quality and inexpensive trampolines exist. Choose the one that fits your needs and pocketbook best. But no matter which one you pick, please make sure it meets the following criteria:
- The trampoline must have a layer of padding around its poles and over its springs or, even better, have a net around the edges. Your child must never come in contact with any metal parts. It is vital to invest in a trampoline with a safety net enclosure, especially when younger children are involved. Many trampolines use arched poles instead of straight ones. This ensures children don’t jump into poles or netting.
- Also, ensure your trampoline has safety pads over the springs, and if not, install them. Springs need to be covered completely as a significant percentage of injuries are caused by toes or fingers being caught in trampoline springs.
3. Consider a round trampoline:
Round trampolines offer less bounce. Buying a round trampoline could be a lot safer than purchasing a rectangular or a square one. Less bounce equals less space for dangerous maneuvers and somersaults. It also means children are more likely to bounce in the center of the trampoline (and away from the edges) as that is where they can bounce the highest.
The bottom line
If you purchase the right trampoline, establish strict trampoline rules for kids, and supervise your children, there are benefits to be had from trampolining. But keep in mind that there is a risk of injury, so always be prepared for the worst.
A special note on trampoline therapy
If you’re looking into trampoline therapy for children and want to use trampolines for therapeutic or medical value, look into rebound therapy and consider purchasing a mini-trampoline instead of traditional trampolines. You absolutely must consult medical professionals before doing this.
First published August 28, 2017, this article was reviewed and updated by Dr. Salber for republication on 6/12/20.