Every time I watch my sons bounce on our backyard trampoline I think of that classic scene from “Marathon Man” – “Is it safe?”
No, we don’t have a deranged dentist lurking in the bushes. The simple act of bouncing up and down on a trampoline invites both joy and danger.
So Daddylibrium checked in with national child safety and health expert, Debra Holtzman, author of “The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living,” to get her take on the subject. Her suggestions should give any parent pause before buying a trampoline for the yard.
Holtzman says trampoline jumping poses a “high risk of serious injury for both children and adults,” citing The American Academy of Pediatrics which recommends the activity not be done at home, in gym class or on playgrounds.
“[Trampolines] should only be used in supervised training programs for gymnastics, diving or other competitive sports,” she says.
The injury statistics are alarming. She says the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that in 2012, there were 94,900 hospital emergency room-treated injuries associated with trampolines, and there were a total of 22 deaths in the 10-year period between 2000 and 2009.
Holtzman provided the following tips for parents who opt to let their children play on trampolines:
- Follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions when assembling and using the trampoline.
- Place the trampoline away from structures, trees and other play areas.
- Place the trampoline on level ground; Even better— if possible, place it in a pit so the jumping surface is at ground level.
- Use shock-absorbent material under and around the trampoline (e.g., at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel.)
- Install a Safety Enclosure Net .
- Install shock-absorbing pads that completely cover the springs, hooks and frame.
- Make sure the trampoline is in good order & replace worn parts promptly. (Additionally, folks should check their home insurance policy: many policies contain a “Trampoline Exclusion” clause.)
She also laid out measures that can lead to safer trampoline play:
- Uninterrupted active adult supervision is absolutely required, no matter what the age of the child.
- No more than one person on the trampoline at a time. (Almost 75 percent of injuries result when more than one person is on the trampoline at the same time.)
- No somersaults, flips, or tricks (because landing on the head or neck can cause paralysis)
- No child under six on a full-size trampoline. (Children younger than 6 years are at the greatest risk of injury.) To prevent young children from getting on without supervision, do not leave a ladder or chair near the trampoline.
- Assist your child in getting off the trampoline.
- Never let your child jump off the trampoline.
- Place time restrictions on trampoline play. (Tired children are more prone to injury.)