There was a time when the only place you’d see a trampoline was at a circus. One of the earliest historical records of their use was by ancient Alaskan Inuit tribesmen. During their annual spring whaling festivals they engaged in spirited blanket-tosses during which members of the tribe were tossed high into the air from a walrus-skin apparatus not unlike modern trampolines.
Today, trampolines are a household fixture for thousands of families, having become a very popular form of recreational entertainment and exercise. What could be more exhilarating than a high-flying somersault or back flip? It’s the stuff of which many Olympic dreams are made! For those of us who are a bit less ambitious, trampolines can provide a great physical aerobic workout for both kids and adults; however there are particular risks involved of which homeowners, parents, and kids should be aware.
The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported that in 2009 nearly 100,000 people made emergency room visits for trampoline-related injuries.
The American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] reports that the most common injuries are bruises and cuts, broken bones, concussions and neck injuries, and sprains and strains. Because children under the age of 6 are at greatest risk for serious injury, the AAP advises parents of young children not buy trampolines for home use at all.
According to reports from the Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention, more serious injuries have included spinal cord injuries, broken necks, head traumas, and death.
Many trampoline injuries occur when people fall off of them and onto hard surfaces. Some people forget that carpet or grass is merely a light cover and that there is hard ground or a floor beneath it. As a result, many people crash onto backyard lawns, cement, and sharp objects scattered on the ground. Even falling onto a cushioned mat can result in severe injuries. When trampoline jumpers chew gum or eat while jumping, there is a risk of choking. Just as people should not engage in physical activity while eating, neither should they do so on a trampoline. Hands should be kept clear of food and other items while jumping.
In addition, awkwardly placed trampolines on uneven surfaces can cause them to wobble so that they are prone to flip over, injuring both jumpers and bystanders.
If you own a trampoline, or if you use one owned by another homeowner, you should be aware of potential liability issues. Remember that anyone who is injured on someone else property may be entitled to damages. Conversely, homeowners need to ensure that their children and guests are protected from injuries and accidents at all times. If, for example, you live in Illinois, Chicago injury attorneys can provide all the information you’ll need about personal injury liability issues. Have fun and get fit, but be careful, and know your legal rights and obligations.
Are you thinking about buying a trampoline for your family? Here are a few tips to consider before making that purchase:
1. Do your homework. Surf the Internet and research the basics about trampoline use, maintenance, storage, safety, and liability.
2. Add safety padding. Trampolines should have shock absorbing pads covering the metal frame and springs.
3. Add safety netting. Since many injuries have been reported after kids fall between the trampoline’s springs and frame, place safety netting around it and surround the entire apparatus with large mats.
4. Assign someone to supervise. Kids of all ages should be supervised while playing on any trampoline at all times.
5. Choose appropriate equipment.Children under 6 should not play on regular-sized trampolines. There are mini trampolines that parents and adults can use for toddlers’ safety.
6. Monitor young children. Parents and adults should not allow toddlers to do somersaults or other acrobatics, since it increases the chance of major head trauma and other injuries. Only one small child should be on the trampoline at a time so that there is no risk of a collision.
7. Select a safe location. Trampolines should be positioned away from clutter, poles, tree roots, rocks, bushes, and uneven surfaces.
As dangerous as leaping, jumping, and flipping can be, dismounting the trampoline has proven to be equally hazardous. The majority of injuries that are sustained by children and others occur when they attempt to jump off and either collide with others or land improperly while performing stunts. Approximately 95 percent of reported trampoline-injuries took place at private homes, and 10 percent involved kids less than 5 years old.