First aid

Updated 01 August 2017

5 ways to avoid trampoline accidents

A trampoline might provide kids with hours of fun, but research shows that incorrect use can cause serious injuries.

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A trampoline gets children outside and is a great form of exercise. Your kids will certainly be jumping for joy, but the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons cautions parents about potential dangers.

Not for the very young

In 2015, more than 295 000 medically treated trampoline injuries occurred in the United States. These included almost 103 000 emergency department visits, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Unfortunately there are no statistics available for trampoline accidents in South Africa.

"We want children to enjoy exercise and physical activity, especially during the summer months, but parents and caregivers should know about the dangers of trampolines and the risk for serious injury, especially in very young children," academy spokeswoman Dr Jennifer Weiss said in a news release from the surgeons' group.

"Children younger than the age six are less likely to have the coordination, body awareness and swift reaction time necessary to keep their bodies, bones and brains safe on trampolines," said Weiss, a Los Angeles paediatric orthopaedic surgeon. 

Wide variety of injuries

The most common trampoline injuries are sprains and fractures caused by falls on the trampoline mat, frame or springs; collisions with other jumpers; stunts gone wrong; and falls off the trampoline onto the ground or other hard surfaces, according to the safety commission.

A Health24 article mentions that a broken arm is one of the most common injuries, as children stretch out their arms instinctively when they land. The article adds that most injuries happen when there's more than one child on a trampoline. 

Keep them safe

Here are some safety measures from the surgeon's group to ensure that your children stay safe:

1. Safety in numbers

Don't let children younger than six years play on trampolines. Only one person at a time should be on the trampoline. Place the trampoline-jumping surface at ground level. Remove trampoline ladders after use to prevent unsupervised use by young children.

child jumping on trampoline

2. Have checks

Regularly inspect equipment and throw away worn or damaged equipment if you can't get replacement parts.

father and son fixing something

3. Safety nets are not that safe

Don't rely on safety net enclosures for injury prevention because most injuries occur on the trampoline surface. Check that supporting bars, strings and surrounding landing surfaces have adequate protective padding that's in good condition.

child on trampoline with safety net

4. Have supervision

Close adult supervision, proper safety measures and instruction are crucial when a trampoline is used for physical education, competitive gymnastics, diving training and similar activities.

adult supervising children on trampoline

5. No risky business

Have spotters present when participants are jumping. Do not allow somersaults or high-risk manoeuvers unless there is proper supervision, instruction and protective equipment such as a harness.

child jumping high on trampoline

Images provided by iStock.