According to a recent hospital audit, more children than ever are sustaining injuries at trampolining parks (and more than from garden trampolines).
In 2017, ambulances were called out to 1,181 trampolining incidents: that’s 3 a day ? Most injuries were from bad falls, and 44% of children seen had fractures, as opposed to 36% of children having fractures from home trampoline accidents.
Dr Catherine Rimmer, a paediatric emergency medicine consultant, told BBC News: “There are a lot of trampoline parks that seem to be popping up all over the place that are neither regulated nor abide by basic safety precautions.
“I think the bigger parks are far better, but I know anyone can open a trampoline park in any kind of big open space and they’re the ones parents need to be particularly careful of.”
Currently the sector is not governed: though from August, parks which are members of the International Association of Trampoline Parks (IATP) will have to adhere to certain safety guidelines in order to be able to renew their membership.
One mum’s story
In July 2017 a mum from the US spoke out about the dangers of young children trampolining, after her 3-year-old broke his femur at an indoor trampoline park.
Kati Ellen took to Facebook to share a (rather upsetting) photo of her injured son Colton, who she says was bouncing normally in an individual trampoline square, when he fell and broke his thigh bone.
Here’s her post in full:
“As hard as it is to relive the past 12 days, we feel compelled to make other parents aware of the danger associated with indoor trampoline parks,” she began her post.
“Colton fell and broke his femur, the strongest bone in his body, while innocently jumping alongside his dad and I.
“Come to find out, according to the America Academy of Pediatrics and the America Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, children under the age of 6 should never use a trampoline.
“This is due to the fact that their fragile bones are not meant to withstand the repetitive pressure from jumping.
“We had no idea and were shocked to find this out from our pediatric orthopedic surgeon during Colton’s hospital stay.
“Our lives have been turned upside down since Colton’s accident and every day is a struggle for his sweet 3-year-old self as he adjusts to life in a hip spica cast for the next 6 weeks.
“We share this with you today to spread awareness that these facilities are specifically advertising for Toddler Time, when in fact toddlers should be nowhere near trampolines.
“We hope by sharing his story it will prevent a child and their family from experiencing the trauma and heartbreak associated with trampoline injuries in young children.”
She then noted in an update that she and her husband, Colton’s dad, were jumping on separate trampolines beside him.
Are trampolines and trampoline parks safe for very young children?
While we know trampolines are a ton of fun for youngsters and can be a great way for them to keep active, Kati’s right in saying that in the US, the official advice is that children under the age of 6 should not use trampolines.
Here in the UK, the advice is exactly the same, because it’s been noted that children’s bones aren’t fully developed to withstand the repetitive bouncing motion.
That includes all kinds of trampolines – whether they’re in the garden or in an indoor park.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) officially warns:
“Trampolining isn’t suitable for children under the age of six because they’re not sufficiently physically developed to control their bouncing.”
“Although RoSPA doesn’t recommend trampolining for children under the age of 6, children aged 3-6 should only use trampolines designed for their age and size. ‘Junior’ trampolines are sold as being suitable from 3 years of age.”
Is trampolining for older children OK, though?
When it comes to children aged 6 or above, RoSPA says that adult supervision is essential, but unfortunately it can’t guarantee safety while your of-age child is bouncing.
Injuries to the head, neck and many other parts of the body are all possible, so it’s important to make sure your child’s trampolining environment is as safe as it can be, and that they know how to bounce correctly.
Avoiding garden trampolines being placed on concrete or hard ground, having a net around the trampoline, and using mats/padding around the trampoline are useful safety tips, RoSPA adds.
And of course, if your child’s really into trampolining, you can always look at enrolling them into a proper class, where they can learn the trickier moves like somersaults in a controlled environment, with a professional to guide them.
In classes, ‘spotters’ (people ready to catch them if they fall) stay around the trampoline, which can help reduce the risk of a fall/injury.
Brush up on RoSPA’s full guide to trampolining safety for children and their recommended standards for trampoline parks here.