28 October 2013

"Are outdoor trampolines really that unsafe?" Talk amongst yourselves.

At Amazon: Pure Fun 8-Foot Trampoline and Enclosure Set (affiliate link)Is getting an outdoor trampoline is a brilliant idea...or a disastrous one? Let's help Ann figure it out:

I have three boys (ages 3, 5 and 8) and I like the physical exercise a trampoline would provide (not to mention the break from the noise inside my house!). My biggest concerns are related to possible injuries...not just "we bumped into each other" but broken body parts, concussions, or something worse.

Some people say that only one kid at a time should jump but that seems really time consuming to enforce and it's super fun to jump with another person safely. My 8 year old is a stocky, unusually strong, rough and tumble guy who weighs double what my 5 year old weighs and triple the amount of my 3 year old so I'm most concerned about the younger two getting hurt.

Also, my 8 year old weighs about 10-20 lbs more than his peers so I worry about a buddy getting hurt as well if I don't let him jump with his younger brothers.

Please do tell me any of your insights, how you organize playing on one, liability with other kids, favorite brand, whether you would do it again, etc.

Our neighbor has an outdoor trampoline with an enclosure (similar to the one pictured here) and it has been a boon to the neighborhood kids. That said, collisions between multiple jumpers are pretty much inevitable.

This neighbor (whose kids are similar ages and weight differences) went through a similar thought process when deciding upon whether to commit to the trampoline. She already knew she was unwilling to constantly supervise every moment her kids and their friends were jumping.

Based on conversations with ER doctor friends (all of whom said they would buy trampolines for their own kids), here's how she decided to run things:

1. Only allow two jumpers of similar weight at a time. As you guessed, Ann, it's the weight difference that increases the potential for injury.

2. If someone falls, the other person stops jumping. Many injuries happen when a fallen jumper gets bounced uncontrollably.

3. Playdate parents must give express permission for their kids to jump. Fair warning!

4. Her kids are responsible for communicating and enforcing the rules. If rules get broken by them or their friends, she is strict about closing the trampoline for a couple days.

She says her guidelines have worked beautifully and she loves having the trampoline. (My kids love it, too.)

Parent Hacks Collective Wisdom...ACTIVATE!

Outdoor trampoline: yes or no? If yes, how do you manage it? Tips? Size, feature or brand recommendations?

PS. When the weather gets warm you can use your trampoline as an outdoor movie theater.

Your comments

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Check with your homeowners insurer before setting one up on your property.

My insurer will cancel our policy if we put one on our property.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages trampolines, because injuries--while not common--can be severe when they do happen: http://familyfitness.about.com/od/healthandsafety/f/Are-Trampolines-Safe.htm

I think it's important for kids to get outside and be active. We don't let them do so many things these days for fear of health and safety.

We have a smallish trampoline with a safety enclosure, similar to the one in the picture. We don't

We don't have any rules, but it's rare there are more than 2 kids playing on it at once.

All of the above is good information. Parents need to do all they can to reduce the risks faced by their young uns. At the end of the day, our kids can hurt themselves doing a variety of simple activities. Pick the trampoline with the best reviews/safety measures, install the rules listed above and ... have a blast! Our boys love their trampoline, and it's a wonderful attraction when we have young guests.

Weight differences: an adult jumping energetically with a small child can break the small child's limbs just by "hitting" the child with the trampoline surface.

Yes! Had one since the boys were ages 8,7,4. Now nearly 15,14,11. Its family team building, great exercise and one of my favorite things too. All of my boys can do solid front flips, back flips, layouts. I have many rules, but consider the most important to be no young kids with older kids. No hard toys. And, I spot them to learn new tricks. A must!

We have about a 10' model (maybe 12'?) with a surrounding mesh wall thing like your pic. We got it when our big one was 3 and the twins were babies, still using it solidly at big one 6, little ones 3 although the mat needs replacement. They all get on it at once. That may be dangerous with a smaller jumping surface, but with a big surface they don't seem to colide as much as you might think. We absolutely don't supervise it constantly while they are on it although you can see it from the kitchen. We don't have a "only one person jumping" rule either. The rule is that you must stop jumping when someone is getting on or off and no shoes but that's it. That said my kids aren't bruisers.

But here's the thing with talk of safety. No doubt injuries do occur on them (my nephew got a nasty stomach wound falling off a trampoline without mesh, but it had been put in a ludicrous position against a brick wall of all things). And no doubt doctors see it all the time. BUT you know what they also see all the time? Chronic and serious health conditions starting earlier and earlier as a result of inactive lifestyles. Yes, kids will avoid injury if they sit inside all day watching telly or playing x-box (well, injury except carpal tunnel anyway). No, that isn't a healthier choice than using a properly sized trampoline with a safety net, or riding your bike on the road (safely), or swimming at the beach, or the hundred other potentially dangerous ways of getting exercise. OK, I am exaggerating here, but those who think they can cotton wool junior into safety are probably not factoring in the heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk that they are setting the kid up for later on.

Ours is an old school spring model but safety wise springfree trampolines are worth looking into, and if you are worried about injury get as big a one as you can fit in your yard, which should help avoid collisions.

We just bought one for our two year old. He loves it. We got a 3m (10 ft for you imperialist types) one which we hope will last for many years. Unfortunately he loves to bounce with someone and lumbering my poor pregnant body onto the tramp is hard work (and my physio is not too happy about the extra 'challange' to my pelvic floor. Oh well, I haven't lost control yet.)

Initially I was a bit worried about the potential for injury, but it seems that most trampoline injuries are not from falling off or getting squished by the springs, but by landing poorly or crashing into someone. The rules above are definitely going to be implemented at my place!

That said, I'm of the parenting school of if your child does not end up in hospital with one or two broken bones from some sort of (mis)adventure, then you're not doing it right. Outdoors all the way! (of course keeping it within this parameter and not going too far is going to be tricky I think!)

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