The trampoline has been called “America’s Most Dangerous Toy.” Although the health benefits of jumping on a trampoline are clear, the risks to children simply don’t outweigh the advantages. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has suggested that the only appropriate way trampolines should be used is for coach-supervised athletic training for a sport like gymnastics or diving. When the evidence is examined, it’s hard to believe that an object presenting such tremendous hazards to children has become a common sight in backyards across the country.
It’s estimated that over 90% of all trampoline injuries happen to children. How many trampoline injuries happen each year is an astounding statistic that should make any parent think twice about allowing their child to bounce on a trampoline—especially unsupervised or with other children jumping at the same time.
How Many Kids Are Injured on Trampolines a Year?
Research on the statistics of trampoline injuries has been published regularly over the past several decades by the AAP. Estimates place the number of child trampoline-related injuries in a one-year period to be around 100,000. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that there were more than 110,000 visits to the emergency room for trampoline-related injuries in 2018. It’s difficult to determine how many trampoline deaths per year our nation suffers. There were at least 22 trampoline deaths that were known and reported between 2000 and 2009.
Trampoline accidents most frequently occur when there are multiple jumpers. About three-quarters of all trampoline accidents happen when two or more children are bouncing at the same time. Younger children are at greatest risk of injury. The reports published by the AAP show that younger children are up to 14 times more likely to suffer injury than their older counterparts.
Not surprisingly, spring and summer are the times of year with the most frequent hospital visits due to trampoline injuries. As weather warms in the spring each year, the rate of trampoline accidents among children escalates. COVID-19 also seems to have had some impact on increasing rates of trampoline injuries. A UK study recently determined that there was a spike in trampoline-related injuries after 2019, a fact researchers have attributed to increased trampoline use during the lockdown era.
Types of Trampoline Injuries
Trampoline accidents more commonly occur at home rather than at a trampoline park. When an accident occurs at a public trampoline facility, however, injuries tend to be more severe, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Part of the reason for this fact is that those who visit jump parks may be more inclined to attempt dangerous maneuvers, and larger groups of jumpers may be in close proximity to one another.
As we’ve mentioned, almost all trampoline accidents happen when children are jumping in groups of two or more. There are a variety of injuries that can be sustained through trampoline use, either while jumping on the trampoline itself or as a result of falling or being pushed off.
The following are some of the most common trampoline accidents and injuries:
- Falls from the trampoline to the ground, resulting in head trauma, broken bones, or other severe injuries when children make impact with the ground or other objects.
- Incomplete flips and somersaults which cause children to land on their head or neck and sustain soft tissue damage or spinal cord injury, sometimes even paralysis.
- Cuts and puncture wounds from landing on the frame or springs and hooks of the trampoline.
- Bruises and broken bones when another jumper bounces and lands on top of a child’s arm or leg.
- Sprains, strains, and fractures to the lower limb areas when a child completes a high jump or stunt and lands improperly.
- Injuries that occur when two or more children collide or knock each other off the trampoline.
Trampoline Injury Prevention and Safety
Most reputable healthcare organizations recommend that parents help children look for safer alternatives to trampolines. While trampolines do provide a great source of physical exercise, the same health benefits can be derived from much less dangerous activities. Walking, hiking, playing catch with a friend or canine companion, swimming with adult supervision, playing a sport, riding a bike while wearing a helmet, or joining a child-appropriate yoga or exercise class can all be safe and fun ways to get a child moving during the spring and summer months.
To those who own or regularly use a trampoline and would like their child to be able to keep using it as safely as possible, the following safety rules can help minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.
- Never permit more than one person to be on the trampoline at the same time.
- Don’t allow small children under the age of five or six to use a full-sized trampoline.
- When entering and exiting, never allow a child to jump on or off. The proper way is to step carefully and only begin jumping at the center of the mat.
- Children should never attempt flips, somersaults, or other stunt maneuvers. These should only be done by trained athletes with coach supervision.
- Don’t allow children to wear shoes or socks while jumping, unless footwear is specially designed and approved for use on a trampoline.
- Use pads to completely cover the metal springs, hooks, and frame of the trampoline.
- Excavate a hole to keep the trampoline at ground level so children cannot fall off.
- Keep a safety net around the outside of the trampoline to keep children securely on the mat.
- Don’t allow children to bounce off the net and back onto the mat as part of play.
- Never position a trampoline on a hill or incline.
- Do not place a trampoline too close to a house, tree, pool, or other structure or body of water.
The most important rule to remember is that children should never be left to jump on a trampoline without adult supervision. An adult who is closely paying attention—not playing on a phone, reading a book, talking with friends, or checking through a window at intervals—must be on hand to ensure that kids aren’t hurt, and to react swiftly if they are. Remember that many trampoline injuries occur even when an adult is present.
There is so much evidence to support the dangers of trampoline use that most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover trampoline injuries. When someone is hurt on a trampoline, the circumstances must be analyzed carefully to determine whether there are any parties that may be liable for the accident. There are situations in which an injured party may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer responsible for a dangerous product. Trampolines that were defectively designed, manufactured, or marketed pose significantly higher risks to consumers.
Claims involving trampoline injuries are often highly difficult to prove and shouldn’t be pursued without expert legal representation. If you have questions about the legal options that may be available after a trampoline injury, contact an experienced attorney from Belsky & Horowitz, LLC. We will be able to evaluate your case and provide honest and supportive advice about its merits and disadvantages.