Jump at your own risk: Trampoline safety measures not so safe

Consumer Reports News: September 29, 2010 10:14 AM

 Jumping on a trampoline may be fun but it’s also potentially perilous. And despite newer safety features—padding on the frame and springs and net enclosures designed to keep jumpers from falling off—injuries are on the rise.

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After the American Association of Pediatricians called for a ban on consumer trampolines, the standards-setting organization ASTM-International revised their voluntary safety standard. That 1999 revision added warnings against use by children under six, multiple jumpers and somersaulting, extended padding for frame and springs, and prohibited ladders. To see if these padding and enclosures were causing injuries to decrease, researchers out of New Zealand analyzed emergency-room admittance data from 2002 to 2007. During this time period, ER visits resulting from trampoline accidents rose, from 89,360 in 2002 to 107,435 in 2007.

The largest numbers of trampoline injuries were strains, sprains and fractures. And it’s worth noting that even when used properly, trampolines can cause injuries. The researchers state: “The largest at 42%, the hurt-myself category is not attributable to design failure.” In other words, even if you are over the age of six and jumping alone on a properly padded and enclosed trampoline, you may still land badly and sprain your ankle. Falling off the trampoline was the second largest category of injuries, including the largest number of head injuries—this despite the addition of net enclosures designed to keep jumpers on the trampoline. Rounding out the top three was injuries from impact with the frame and spring—again, despite added padding.

It would seem that the safety features either don’t work or aren’t in place, perhaps because they weren’t installed or have fallen apart. It’s possible that safety nets give jumpers a false sense of security, leading them to attempt more dangerous stunts. 

Consumer Reports doesn’t recommend that you own a trampoline and suggests that if your kids want to jump, go to a gymnastics center, where proper technique is taught and vigilant supervison is more likely. But if you are determined to do some backyard bouncing, follow these safety steps from the CPSC:

  • Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time.
  • Do not attempt or allow somersaults because landing on the head or neck can cause paralysis.
  • Do not use the trampoline without shock-absorbing pads that completely cover its springs, hooks, and frame.
  • Place the trampoline away from structures, trees, and other play areas.
  • No child under 6 years of age should use a full-size trampoline.
  • Do not use a ladder with the trampoline because it provides unsupervised access by small children.
  • Always supervise children who use a trampoline.

—Desirée Ferenczi


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