Advice on Buying a Trampoline for Your Kids

Child Safety Basics

Home trampolines are a common cause of injuries.
Multiple kids jumping on a trampoline, even with a net, makes trampolining even more risky. Photo by Karl Weatherly/Getty Images

Home trampolines are popular with children and you often see them in the backyards of many families.

Unfortunately, like ATVs and BB guns, they can also be dangerous.

Dangers of Buying a Trampoline

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2014, there were 104,691 hospital emergency room-treated injuries associated with trampolines, mostly in young children and teens.

Many of these trampoline injuries occurred when:

  • two or more people on the trampoline collide together
  • someone lands on a trampoline spring or the frame of the trampoline
  • a person who is jumping or doing stunts lands wrong
  • someone falls off the trampoline
  • someone jumps off the trampoline
  • children were using home trampolines

And tragically, since 1990, there have been at least 6 deaths of children under age 15 involving trampolines.

How Trampoline Injuries Happen

You just have to look at some recent trampoline accidents to see how easy it is for kids to get hurt while playing on a trampoline.

Recent trampoline accidents and injuries include:

  • a 5-year-old who fell off a trampoline and suffered a skull fracture
  • a 4-year-old who broke his leg (fibula and tibia) while jumping on a trampoline
  • a 6-year-old who broke his elbow (supracondylar fracture) when his cousin fell on his arm while they were jumping together
  • a 3-year-old who developed a subdural hematoma after falling off a trampoline and hitting his head
  • an 11-year-old who fractured her ankle while jumping on a trampoline
  • a 12-year-old developed a concussion after she hit her head with her knee while jumping on a trampoline

Most of these injuries didn't involve falling off the trampoline, which is how parents typically think accidents occur.

And tragically, children sometimes die on trampolines.

Home Trampoline Buying Advice

To help avoid injuries from trampolines, you should follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and simply never "purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use home trampolines" and don't make trampolines a part of outdoor playgrounds or play equipment.

Keep in mind that even in a supervised training program, children under age 6 years should not use trampolines.

So the basic advice for a parent that is considering buying a home trampoline is that you should simply not do it.

Trampoline Safety

If you must have a home trampoline, you should:

  • allow only one person to jump on the trampoline at the same time
  • encourage users to jump in the center of the trampoline mat
  • not attempt or allow your kids to do somersaults, because if they land on their head or neck, it can cause paralysis
  • make sure that the springs, hooks, and frame of the trampoline are completely covered by shock-absorbing pads
  • not allow kids under 6 years of age to use a full-size trampoline
  • make sure kids have adult supervision when they are trampolining to make sure they follow safety rules and in case they get hurt
  • use a trampoline enclosure, which can help prevent kids from falling off the trampoline, but won't prevent other injuries and provide a false sense of security for parents
  • place the trampoline in a well-lit area, at ground level, away from any structures with which your child could collide if he falls off, including trees, walls, and fences, etc.
  • make sure your trampoline is anchored to the ground and that the ground is flat
  • install an impact absorbing safety surface material around the trampoline, such as wood chips, sand, or mulch, etc. Concrete is not a good protective surfacing material if your child falls off the trampoline.

It is also important to regularly check the trampoline to make sure that it is in good working condition and that it hasn't been involved in a safety recall. Keep in mind a trampolines padding and enclosure net will likely last longer than the frame and mat and will need to be replaced at some point during the life of the trampoline.

Sources:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Trampolines and Trampoline Safety: Position Statement. September 2010.

American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement. Trampoline Safety in Childhood and Adolescence. PEDIATRICS Volume 130, Number 4, October 2012

CPSC Safety Alert. Trampoline Safety. Publication 085.

CPSC. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). Accessed June 2015

Randall, Loder T. MD. Fractures From Trampolines: Results From a National Database, 2002 to 2011. Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: October/November 2014 - Volume 34 - Issue 7 - p 683–690

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