Trampolines are a go-to backyard kid-favorite. Here's how to minimize the risk of bouncy fun and let the kids keep on jumping.
Backyard trampolines are more popular than ever, and kids love them. However, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons strongly discourage the use of home trampolines, especially for children younger than 6. Each year from 2010 to 2014, E.R. doctors treated more than 91,000 trampoline injuries, including head injuries, fractures, and sprains. In the worst-case scenarios, kids can end up paralyzed, brain damaged, or even killed. The younger and smaller a child is, the more likely he is to get hurt.
“Unfortunately, injuries happen for the same reasons trampolines are fun,” says Lori DeBold, M.D., vice chair of pediatrics at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, in Fountain Valley, California. “A child has some, but not total, control over how high she bounces and where she lands.” Nearly two-thirds of trampoline accidents are caused by children jumping at the same time and crashing into one another. If you believe that the benefits of a backyard trampoline outweigh the risks, follow these rules from the safety experts.
- Only allow one person on at a time.
- No somersaulting, even for experienced older kids!
- Keep the trampoline on level ground, away from other structures and trees.
- Purchase shock-absorbing pads that completely cover the trampoline’s metal frame, springs, and hooks.
- If you see tears, fraying, or other signs of wear in the padding, replace it immediately.
- Put up a net enclosure, and carefully read your owner’s manual to make sure that you have installed it properly.
- Don’t allow kids to climb or hang from the netting.
- Regularly search saferproducts.gov for the make and model of your trampoline to stay up-to-date on product recalls and consumer complaints.