What do you do when your children ask for a trampoline?
As a parent, you may have been expecting this question. On one hand, you want them to be safe – trampolines can be dangerous. On the other hand, you want them to have fun, enjoy their childhood and not coddle them.
Besides, if you keep your kids from every activity that is potentially dangerous, they would never leave the house.
So, what do you do?
What Should You Do When Your Kids Ask For A Trampoline?
The dangers of a trampoline are widely known.
People break their legs and arms—and these are just the not-so-bad cases. The injuries are more common than you think; just ask an ER doctor.
In 2014, 286,000 trampoline-related injuries were reported in the US alone. With these kinds of injury reports, why are people still buying trampolines?
Even more importantly, why should you buy a mini trampoline for your kids?
Why Should You Buy Your Kids A Trampoline?
Over the past years, trampoline manufacturers have tried to make their trampolines safer.
Trampolines also offers ways for your child to develop coordination. If they are acrobats, they can use it to sharpen their skills.
Not to mention that a trampoline is an awesome way for kids to enjoy themselves outside instead of being glued to a screen. Besides, adults can use it too and you can have a little fun with your family.
Many experts discourage the use of trampolines but they also acknowledge their benefits.
As a result, they have come up with the scenarios that are most likely to be dangerous and ways to make jumping on a trampoline safer for everyone.
What Exactly Causes Injuries When Using a Trampoline?
Do not let the causes scare you. For each one of them, there is a solid solution.
The springs on a trampoline are kind of the main thing. They help with the bounce. The heavier you are or the more force you exert on them, the more force the springs will push back with. Despite them being an important part, they are also highly likely to cause an injury.
The most common injuries are not that serious. They are bruises and scratches here and there. It gets serious when the kid lands on the spring after a jump. Depending on how high they are coming from, the result may be ugly. If you have kids, you know that they can get caught up in the strangest situation. That happens on a trampoline too. They can get a leg, arm or head caught up in the spring when getting off.
For a children’s trampoline, buy one that does not have springs. Some manufacturers are opting to use bungee cords instead. These cannot cause injuries. They also offer a softer bounce which means no straining your ligaments and joints.
At least find a trampoline that has a pad over the springs. Most of them actually do. Be sure to check how thick the padding is. A very thin pad will get worn out in a short time. It may not even offer enough protection when it is new.
This one is more dangerous than the springs. As you can imagine frames in a trampoline are not made of soft materials.
What happens when a child hits the frame while landing? Oftentimes, they hit with their heads causing cuts, bruises and sometimes concussions.
Trampoline frames are usually made of steel. Unlike springs, they cannot be made of soft material because they have to be sturdy.
So look for a trampoline with some kind of padding or foam around the frame. When it gets worn out, replace it.
c. Number of People Jumping
It can be difficult holding off a child or more as only one jumps on the trampoline. Parents often think it is okay to let the kids jump together. This, however, is a dangerous thing to do.
As the fun intensifies the kids will be too focused on jumping—and who knows where they will land on the trampoline. It is easy for them to collide, which can get serious if heads are involved.
Another scenario is when one child bounces another one off, causing them to fall on the ground.
For a mini trampoline, let one child jump at a time. They may not like it but it is safe; otherwise, buy two if you can.
Or buy a large rectangular trampoline that can accommodate multiple jumpers. You will have to spend more but it is worth it. Regardless of how big the tramline is, never take your eyes off the children.
Note that this only works if the kids are not performing complicated stunts. If you have an athlete who likes to try flips they are better off jumping alone.
d. Falling Off the Trampoline
Other than being bounced off by someone else, a person can bounce off a trampoline for other reasons. For daring kids, the higher they jump the more fun they have.
When the trampoline is placed on uneven ground, the chances of falling off increase. Again, the seriousness of injuries caused will depend on where the kids land. This is a scary thought given that some parents place trampolines near sharp/dangerous objects.
First, place your trampoline away from hard and sharp objects. And have a net enclosure, especially on bigger trampolines. It prevents jumpers from falling off. Always check the net for any wear and tear. It should be tough and in good condition at all times.
e. The Shape of the Trampoline
According to this study on trampoline safety, the shape of a trampoline matters—although not so much. The research is not yet conclusive but rectangular trampolines are a little safer than round ones. Apparently, their bounce area is more consistent and even.
When you jump on a round trampoline, the bounce of the trampoline will direct you to center every time. Because of this, it is hard to fall on the frame or off of the trampoline itself.
But this may not be great when two children are jumping together since they would collide in the middle.
Additionally, you cannot jump too high on a round trampoline. Its responsiveness is limited. A rectangular trampoline is the opposite of this.
In case of multiple jumpers, an oval trampoline may work. It has the benefits of a round trampoline but it does not pull you to the center. This minimizes the chances of colliding.
f. Extreme Stunts
After some time, the simple jumps become old.
Children will try to spice it up by trying somersaults and other stunts.
It may even turn into a competition of who does it best.
They may not fall on the ground, hit the frame or the spring. But they can land on the mat in an awkward position and get hurt.
Awkward landing is actually the leading cause of trampoline injuries.
Common Trampoline Injuries
Foot Injuries: Normally, the kids will land on their feet when jumping. Most of the foot injuries reported were not that bad and often involved the ligaments.
Fractures/broken bones: these occur when the impact is great. They are more common on the lower extremities and arms.
Spinal injuries: this is one of those things that no parent ever wants to think about. However, it must be highlighted because it happens. The trampoline is the second leading cause of spinal injuries in children (after football).
Head injuries: these injuries are rare but not non-existent. Unfortunately, just like spinal injuries, head injuries can end very badly.
How to Keep Your Kids Safe On A Trampoline
At this point, you have probably ruled out the trampoline.
However, jumping is a fantastic activity and the trampoline can be a source of joy in your home. It does not have to be an injury trap.
You have to understand that a lot of keenness is required on your side if you are to avoid all the above ugly scenarios.
Here are the recommended safety measures.
a. Adult Supervision
There should always be an adult watching anytime kids are using the trampoline. In addition to being there, your eyes should be on the playing children and not on your phone. A lot can happen in one minute. Be all there and get involved. Make sure the children have proper clothing before getting on. They should also only bounce from the center and avoid extreme stunts.
If you cannot find the time, get another responsible adult; someone you can trust. While choosing a supervisor, have the injury statistics discussed above in mind.
Note: for maximum safety, look for a spotter.
b. One Child at a Time
This will definitely not be fun for the supervising adult, especially when there are several kids. But remember that their safety is, to a large extent, in your hands. You should, under no circumstance, allow two or more children to jump at the same time. By the way, the AAOS agrees with this point.
Remember to keep an eye on the children that are not bouncing too. Ensure that they do not go under the trampoline.
c. Age Appropriateness
Experts do not seem to agree on the right age for trampoline activity. Some say 3 while others say 6. As a parent, you know your child and, of course, you want them to be safe. 6+ years would be okay. Only compromise if you know you will closely monitor the jumping.
d. Rowdy Adults
Adults are not always responsible. You need to be careful with other adults too especially when alcohol or another substance is involved. Drunk people should not be allowed on the trampoline. This is for their own safety as much as it is for the kids.
e. Proper Placement
Do not place the trampoline on concrete or near hard and sharp objects.
The best place would be on soft ground such as a lawn. If your lawn is anything but soft, look for wood chips or even sand to put under the trampoline.
Another thing, the ground should be level. An uneven surface can bring unimaginable harm.
When Buying a Trampoline…
The five safety measures mentioned above have address most of the injury causes. The remaining causes include the springs, frame and shape of the trampoline. These are the things you should consider when buying.
First of all, buy a trampoline with a safety net. It will, at least, minimize the chances of a child flying off. Check the quality of the net too.
Secondly, look for a trampoline that has padding on the frame and spring. This way, no one will get hurt when they hit the frame or get caught in the spring. Better still, get a springless trampoline. They make those now and they are way safer. The safety comes at a higher cost but it is worth it.
Remember that physical activities always involve some risk.
Your children can get hurt riding their bike, running and doing pretty much everything. Keeping them from any activity that may cause an injury is not much of a solution.
The wise thing to do is provide a way for them to have fun safely. A trampoline may be risky but the risks are greatly reduced when you take the necessary precautions.
A responsible adult should be supervising the activity at all time. Only allow one child on the trampoline to avoid a “collision” accident. If someone is under the influence, they should stay away from the trampoline.
Last but not least, choose your trampoline wisely. See what safety measures it offers.
While you want to make sure that kids are safe, do not forget that having a fantastic time is just as important. So try to strike a balance.