Spotting Danger in Your Backyard:
Using a trampoline is supposed to be fun. Children laugh and get more excited with each jump and tumble. While the popularity of trampolines among 8- to 15-year-olds is growing, many people are unaware that playing on trampolines can result in serious injuries including fractures, dislocations, muscle damage, and broken legs. Even worse, some trampoline injuries damage the neck or spinal cord, which can result in permanent paralysis.
Why are trampolines so dangerous? Part of the reason is the tremendous power generated when people jump on them. For example, an activity such as launching involves multiple people on the trampoline at once, creating an energy force strong enough to send a full-grown person five feet in the air. This energy force can also literally catapult a person off the equipment or send someone high enough to come crashing back down on another person.
The growing trend in trampoline use is leading to more injuries every year. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that the number of trampoline-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms had grown from 19,000 in 1976 to 91,870 injuries in 2001 (the latest statistics available). Because of the potential for injury, many groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend against the use of trampolines at home. However, for people who do choose to have a trampoline, the following guidelines from the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons may help prevent injuries:
- Make sure adults are present to supervise.
- Limit jumpers to one at a time.
- Post adult spotters around the trampoline to guard against falls.
- Use adequate protective padding for the trampoline's supporting bars, springs, and surrounding landing surfaces.
- Use protective equipment for somersaults and other high-risk maneuvers.
- Make sure the trampoline frame and mat are in good condition.
- Use a trampoline in well-lighted areas.
- Disable trampoline when not in use.