“Mom! Jessie has a trampoline, everyone’s going over to his house! He’s the most popular kid in our class! Can I go? Can I get one, too? I want everyone to come to my house! Please??” Does this sound familiar? If you’re a parent of a teenager or younger child, chances are you’ve heard that plea.
Tempting as it may sound to succumb to your child’s request for backyard “play” equipment, it’s important to know the facts before you take action and give in for the sake of your child’s popularity among his fellow grade-schoolers.
The trampoline was first introduced as a tumbling device in 1945, created by a gymnast who saw the need for a way to practice gymnastic maneuvers. By 2009, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported 98,000 injuries by trampolines, with 3,000 of those injuries requiring hospitalization. In a short time, the popularity of trampolines became more common, adding to the drastic number of incidents for this backyard “toy.”
True to the original intent, trampolines were never really designed to be used recreationally by children. As a result, trampolines have become a point of controversy over time. Parents buy a trampoline, set it up the same day and toss the kids on the surface. No instruction, no rules and no training.
Let’s add boredom to the mix. Boredom in children accounts for increased injuries on the playground such as higher jumps on trampolines, swinging upside down on a swing set, skateboarding down a slide, and walking on monkey bars. We want our kids to be active and creative, and we can’t stop our kids from their desire to be popular by rewarding them with indulgences when warranted. We can, however, take precautions to make sure injuries don’t occur. Let’s take a look at some ways to enforce the safety of trampoline use by implementing and adhering to these steadfast rules:
- Never allow more than one child on the trampoline at any one time – many smaller kids are injured or bumped off the surface when they take the “bounce” from a bigger kid’s jump.
- Be adamant about not allowing flipping or crazy stunts while jumping.
- Remove any ladders that lead up to the trampoline so little ones won’t be tempted to climb the ladder when you’re not looking.
- Install padding around the edges, test that the suspension is tight, and install the trampoline on level ground (non-level ground is a primary cause of trampoline injury). The trampoline should not be tilted or off-balance, and slanted ground or bricks should never be used for further support.
- Make sure there is an adult present at all times; if you cannot be present, be sure to task a near-by adult with watching the kids. (Don’t assume everyone is watching.)
- Check into your homeowners insurance to see what is covered in the event of a recreational accident on your property.
Consumers will continue to purchase trampolines as “toys” for their kids, and athletes will continue to use trampolines for training. Both groups are at risk. Instilling responsible and safe trampoline practices for all could be the key to preventing unnecessary and possibly life-threatening injury. So, before you give in to the pleas of your child, check the trampoline manufacturer’s ratings and provide a lesson to your kids and to those in charge.