Trampolines are becoming very common and can be found in many homes and backyards across the county. They are especially popular as recreation items for children. Though trampolines seem like a great way for kids to release energy and, at the same time, develop balance and coordination, they are very unsafe when used incorrectly. What more and more parents, children and hospitals are finding out is that while a happy child gets on a trampoline, an injured child often comes off one!
Why is a trampoline unsafe?
A 1998 report released by the Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program, which collects information on injuries from 10 pediatric hospitals and five general hospitals across Canada, noted that the hospitals had collected data on 149 trampoline-related injuries in 1990 and almost four times as many, 557 injuries, in 1998. Nearly 80% of the trampoline injuries happened in children ages five to 14.
Statistics show that most injuries happen while a child is jumping on a trampoline, not because of a fall off a trampoline. This means that even when children are carefully supervised, injuries are still likely to occur. Serious injuries also happen when children fall off trampolines, attempt to perform tricks or when there is more than one child on the trampoline at a time.
Although fractures and broken bones are the most common injury, serious head and neck injuries also occur frequently. Children lack a sense of danger and usually feel they are not going to get hurt or put themselves in danger as a result of their actions.
The size of the trampoline doesn’t seem to matter either. Trampolines range in size from the large outdoor variety to the small, personal exercise type. Children can be seriously hurt from playing on a trampoline that is only about 38 inches in diameter and 8 inches in height or on a large one that is 14 feet in diameter and 5 feet off the ground.
What risks come along with using a trampoline?
Injuries from trampoline use range from sprained ankles and wrists to more serious injuries, such as skull fractures, broken backs and necks. Most of the injuries are caused by inappropriate or unsupervised use. According to the 1998 Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program report, most trampoline-related injuries are the result of:
- Attempting tricks or flips
- Colliding with, or landing on, another person on the trampoline
- Being pushed off the trampoline by another person
- Landing hard or improperly while jumping on the trampoline
- Falling off the trampoline and landing on the ground or a hard object
- Coming into contact with the springs or frame
- Jumping off, instead of climbing off, the trampoline
Are trampolines regulated for safety?
Currently, there are no Canadian regulations on the design and construction of trampolines, or requirements for their advertisement, sale or importation. However, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International has developed a standard that addresses trampoline components, assembly, and instructions, as well as warnings that are to be provided with the product.
If you choose to use a trampoline, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and enforce the following recommendations to reduce the risk of serious injury or death:
- Make sure there is adequate, mature supervision when the trampoline is being used
- Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time
- Children under six years of age should never be allowed to use a trampoline
- Do not use a ladder with the trampoline because it allows unsupervised access to young children
- Never attempt flips, stunts, or tricks without training
- Never jump onto a trampoline from a higher place
- Never use a trampoline as a springboard to other objects
- Only use a trampoline that had shock-absorbing pads that completely cover the springs, hooks and frame. The safety padding should be securely attached to the trampoline and have a contrasting colour to the trampoline bed, so that the two areas can be easily distinguished from each other
- Set up the trampoline on level ground that is well away from structures, trees, and other play areas. It is recommended that there be at least a 2 metre clearance around the sides of the trampoline and at least an 8 metre clearance above the trampoline
- Make sure the ground under the trampoline is completely clear of objects or obstructions
- A trampoline enclosure with safety netting may help prevent injuries from falls, but it should never be used to replace adequate supervision
- Inspect the trampoline before using it. Make sure the springs are secure, that the bed has no holes or tears, that the padding is securely fastened, that there are no bends or kinks in the frame, and that the leg braces are securely locked.
To report a problem with a trampoline, contact your nearest Health Canada Product Safety Office. Perth County residents contact the Hamilton office by telephone at 905-572-2845.