Contributed by Hannah Davey
Trampolines have come a long way since the early Inuits discovered the excitement of tossing friends into the air on a walrus skin. While the fun factor of trampolining hasn’t changed through the ages, today’s modern equipment offers all kinds of advancements — new manufacturing techniques using stronger space-age materials, family-friendly designs and, of course, improved safety features.
Affordable, entertaining and ideal for keeping fit at home, worldwide sales of backyard-style trampolines have risen dramatically, since the 1950s. Today, purchases of backyard trampolines exceed 500,000 units annually in the U.S. alone.
However, there’s a flip side to trampoline use that continues to concern caregivers. Recent statistics compiled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission show over 95,000 Americans — kids, as well as adults — visited the emergency room with trampoline-related injuries in 2010. And according to the Irish Association for Emergency (IAE), which compiles international evidence, injuries involving trampolines have increased two-fold in the past 10 years.
With statistics like these floating around on the Internet, it’s no wonder many parents think there are more cons than pros when it comes to buying a trampoline for their family. But parents need to put figures like the IAE’s in perspective — such an increase in purchases within any recreational toy range or activity will automatically start to correlate positively with an increase in bumps and scrapes. They should also remember that trampolines are popular with families for good reason and, when used correctly, the many benefits and fun they offer far outweigh the risks.
Safer is smarter
A backyard trampoline can be a great way for family members of all ages to stay entertained through the vacation months ahead. Whether it involves hours of energetic bouncing or using the comfortable mat-surface to pitch some sleeping bags for a slumber party under the stars, trampolines can provide both fun and fitness.
However, as with any toy or product involving physical activity, it pays to make sure the whole family knows what it means to play safe. The key to maximizing fun while minimizing mishaps is to follow a few simple but important tips.
A trampoline should be the correct size for your outdoor space, with a design suited to the people using it. A larger jumping area, for example, reduces the chance of collisions(*). Do a little research into different models and brands, and listen to people’s opinions. You’ll get a feel for what’s right for you.
- Editor’s note: Health Canada advises restricting trampoline use to one child at a time.
Safety enclosures make a huge difference. As well as preventing falls to the ground, they protect jumpers from the trampoline’s springs and poles.
Round trampolines tend to pull kids toward the middle of the jumping surface. To avoid collisions, try to have just one person bouncing at a time. A “spotter” on the ground, outside the trampoline, might also help prevent falls.
Padding provides a lot of protection by shielding jumpers from the frame and spring mechanism. But it can wear down in time. Choose a model with a thick, solid-foam covering. Otherwise you may need to replace it sooner than expected.
It’s easy for kids and adults to get over-enthusiastic and try different tricks. Make sure the jumper is bouncing sensibly and has acquired the necessary skills through proper supervision and guidance.
One final caveat. After you’ve purchased the right product for your family’s needs, take time to ensure the backyard surroundings are just as safe. For example, remove any nearby low-hanging tree branches. And when you’re firing up the BBQ, keep it well away from the trampoline. Sparks and ash can burn little holes in the trampoline bed.
So, now that you’re ready — get bouncing!
|Hannah Davey is a member of Big Game Hunters, a well-known U.K. supplier of active play products, ranging from pools to sandpits. Specializing in the development of trampolines and accessories, she consults and writes about outdoor activities and safety.|
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