Kids love trampolines; parents dread them. For parents, the trampoline conjures up thoughts of injuries and emergencies (and maybe a few of their own childhood memories of near misses). But for kids, trampolines are an endless source of fun, while also being a healthy outdoor activity that’s also good exercise.
When it comes to backyard trampolining, the single most important factor is safety. Trampolines themselves aren’t inherently dangerous, but if not properly set up and supervised they can present a risk. But with a few sensible safety precautions, some clear rules and a little supervision, you can keep your kids safe without depriving them of some serious fun.
Before anyone starts bouncing, you need to put some serious thought into where you are going to place the trampoline. Careful and considered placement is essential for safety.
The trampoline should always be placed on a soft surface like grass or bark chips. If placed on a hard surface like concrete or paving, you need to ensure that there is ample soft matting around to create a safe surface.
For obvious reasons, trampolines should also always be placed on a flat surface.
Ensure there is nothing beneath the jumping surface and that there are no obstacles above like tree branches or wires. Besides the risk of head injuries, kids may be tempted to try to touch or grab any overhead obstacles, which can lead to injuries.
The trampoline should also be placed at a safe distance away from roofs, trees, fences or any other raised surface that kids might be tempted to jump off of.
These days, there is a wide range of trampoline accessories designed to improve safety and reduce the risk of trampoline related injuries. These include anchor kits, trampoline netting with pole padding, spring padding and even safety matting for the ground around the trampoline.
It’s worth browsing through a few retailers’ websites to have a look at the accessories available. In most cases, these accessories will be optional add-ons, so be prepared to pay a little more. But then, what price can you put on safety?
Regularly clean and inspect
Regularly cleaning and inspections will help to prevent potential injuries and keep the trampoline in the best possible condition.
Clean off the jumping surface before giving the kids a chance to use it. Any twigs, sticks or rocks on the surface could be injury hazards. You should also make sure the surface is dry, since a wet surface can be slippery and potentially dangerous.
You should also regularly inspect the trampoline for wear and tear. Check the jumping mat for tears or frays and check the frame for damaged springs, loose bolts or broken fixtures. Ensure the ground anchoring system is firmly attached.
Before the kids start bouncing you should ensure that they are appropriately dressed.
Always remove shoes and socks before jumping. Shoes can damage the trampoline and socks will reduce traction and can be a slip risk.
Remove any jewelry, hats, belts or items in pockets. Kids should also wear sports-appropriate clothing that is free from large buttons, zips or adornments that could cause injuries.
Keep an eye on pets
Ensure that the family dog, or any other pets, are never allowed on or under the trampoline, especially while the kids are bouncing. This presents a serious safety risk for both the pet and the children.
Make clear rules for the kids
You should lay out some clear and simple rules for using the trampoline. These can include things like:
- No jumping without an adult present
- Designated trampoline times
- Only one (or maybe two) person at a time
- Sensible jumping only
- No jumping off the trampoline
- Or whatever else you think is appropriate
A one strike policy can also help. If the kids break a rule or don’t listen to you, they get one strike. After that, it’s off the trampoline. It’s important to let them know what the safety risks are and that you are serious about keeping them safe.
Finally, it’s important to know what to do in case of injury and when to see a doctor.
With a little planning, some safety equipment and rules and supervision, the kids will have a good time, and you’ll be able to breathe easily.