Posted by Claudia Grazioso on September 19, 2011
Years ago, when my entire family would pile into the station wagon for that time-honored, torture-the-small-children event called the Family Summer Road Trip, my parents always made sure to have strategic stops along the way. Places where they could have a cup of coffee (and a break from the whining), and where we kids could — and would — exhaust ourselves. At one roadside, no-frills place, you could rent time on a trampoline. There were about sixteen trampolines strung over deep pits, surrounded by gravel and a small chain link fence. We would jump on them until we were sick and sweaty and still want more.
Kids love to jump. Even the laziest mini-couch potato gets a thrill out of launching up high into the sky on a trampoline. And now I’m considering getting one for our kids — though it will definitely have better safety precautions than a chain link fence and gravel. Still, as I started looking into trampoline buying, I came across a few more safety precautions that I probably wouldn’t have thought of.
First, placement of the trampoline is important. It should be far away from any structures or trees. Even if it has safety netting, that netting most likely will have some give, and might not be strong enough to keep a rocketing child from colliding with the side of a house, garage or tree. Second, make sure that all hinges, hooks and frame are covered with padded material. Third, only one child should be on the trampoline at a time. Yes, that seems like a buzz kill, and kids love to bounce in packs, but every year a lot of kids get hurt because of collisions on trampolines. Having witnessed a few near misses in bouncy houses and jumpers, it does actually make sense.
Finally, supervision, supervision, supervision. And if kids want to try back flips or mid-air somersaults, a trained spotter should be present. Every year thousands of people suffer neck and back injuries as a result of attempting aerial feats on trampolines. It seems like it should be safe — it’s a soft, bouncy surface and there is something about a trampoline that just inspires flips. But serious injuries can occur in a flash. In fact, about half of all trampoline-related injuries happen to children under the age of 14.
Trampolines have become increasingly popular recently because they are a great way for kids to get some exercise and have some fun. But it’s important to take precautions so the fun is also safe.