Monthly Archives: September 2015

Forget Sprained Ankles, Do Backyard Trampolines Pose A Financial Risk?

Many of us remember long ago summer afternoons spent playing on trampolines, running around until the street lights came on, catching fireflies in jars. Now we may be parents of children ourselves, and we want to give the same good memories to our own kids.

Safety Measures for Trampoline

My own sons—aged nine and six—have been nagging their father and me to get one ever since the parents of their friend did so at the beginning of June. We’ve talked about it, but, as every parent knows—caution and research should go hand in hand. Another neighbour child fell and broke her arm on the frame of one just last summer, and we certainly didn’t want to expose our children to a potentially harmful situation. But what are the risks?

“I Dare You” and Other Dangerous Activities

I was a little bit unsettled to discover just how dangerous trampolines actually are. Much of the risk is due to improper use, which is code language meaning kids don’t always wait their turn to use the toy. When disagreements flair up and pushing or overcrowding occurs, kids can fall and get hurt.

It also speaks to the performance of stunts—jumping from high places onto the trampoline. Performing acrobatic maneuvers without prior training. And falling from the trampoline to the ground—which can lead to severe injury. Parents should never allow kids to play on trampolines without supervision.

If you’re wondering whether I’m overstating the dangers of improper trampoline usage, here are a few current statistics that I found. Based on reports from the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) there are more than 246,000 trampoline-related injuries a year. Seventy five percent of these injuries occur to children under the age of 14, and include fractures of the legs and arms, spinal injuries, and vertebral damage. There are even reports of deaths that have occurred because children fell or were pushed during use of a trampoline.

Safety Measures You Can Take

Now that you’ve heard the unsettling news about trampolines, here’s the bright side. There are plenty of measures you can take to ensure safe, healthy activity for your kids and the neighbors.

The first and most important rule is: only one person jumping at a time. In fact, only one person on the trampoline at a time.

Other safety measures that will come in handy are:

• A padded bolster or cover for the springs and frame
• A netted enclosure to prevent falls from the trampoline or inappropriate stunts.
• A gated yard or posted warning against unsupervised use.
• Do not allow unsupervised use. Ever.
• Do not permit a child under six to use it. Ever.
• Place the trampoline in an open area
• Never place it on concrete. The ground cover should be soft in the event of a fall.
• No ladders. These offer small children ease of access without permission.

Attractive Nuisances, Insurance, and You

Most home-owner’s insurance policies don’t cover trampolines, because they invite unauthorized and unsupervised use. This can lead to lawsuits if a neighbour’s child falls and seriously injures him or herself. That’s why trampoline insurance is a separate affair, but one you should not ignore. There are three ways insurance companies deal with trampolines:

• No Exclusions. This means that your insurance policy will cover a trampoline without additional premiums.
• With Safety Precautions. Remember those safety measures I talked about earlier? Your carrier may agree to cover a trampoline if you’ve implemented several or all safety precautions.
• Trampoline Exclusion. You aren’t covered in the instance of an injury—whether the person was a guest or an intruder.

Basically, you should review your home-owner’s insurance policy before you purchase a trampoline. If you don’t, it can be costly, not only in terms of future policies and premiums, but also in the event of an accident.

While we want our boys to be safe, we also want our neighbour’s children to be safe, too. We look out for each other, here. Even if your policy offers trampoline coverage, make sure you take the time to install safety measures and educate your kids on proper trampoline etiquette.

What’s Up With Trampoline Tents?

Just do a Google search for images of trampoline tents and you’ll see tons of different shapes, styles and sizes. Whether your kids want to stargaze from a tent with a panoramic view, do some backyard camping or have a fun secret clubhouse or fort, you’re sure to find a perfect tent style for your trampoline.

You’ve made a considerable investment on your family’s trampoline and although the kids love jumping, adding a tent is a good way to increase the usefulness of your trampoline. Your kids will spend more time outdoors and less time sitting in front of their video games. Who knows, maybe you’ll even have a chance to enjoy a little ‘me time’ relaxing with a good book in the trampoline tent!
Tents Style for Trampolines

Trampoline Tents VS Weather Cover

A trampoline tent is not meant to protect your trampoline against degradation from UV rays and weather conditions. For that kind of protection, you need a trampoline cover. A cover fits directly over the jump surface and is secured snugly around the so it’s easy to put on and take off.

A cover not only protects the pad against UV rays, but it also keeps dirt and debris from accumulating on the jump pad. It should be used between uses and can significantly increase the life of your trampoline.

A trampoline tent isn’t meant to prolong your trampoline life and may or may not be made with UV resistant materials. It also takes more time to set up and tear down.

Your Trampoline Manufacturer’s Tents

When you decide to get a tent, I suggest you start by checking with the manufacturer of your trampoline. If you purchase one that’s specifically designed for your trampoline model and size, there’s no question that it should fit properly.

Your trampoline brand will probably have a limited number of designs available. If they have the style you’re looking for, you’re good to go. However, if the manufacturer of your trampoline doesn’t make a tent that has the features you want, you’ll need to start looking for a third party manufacturer that makes the style you’re looking for.

Third Party Tents

There are several third party manufacturers producing trampoline tents that fit on a variety of brands. They often specify the brands and models their product is compatible with, but some only specify the size of trampoline the unit will fit.

Make sure you investigate the compatibility with your brand and model trampoline. Check with their online help center or make a call to their customer service department for help in selecting your tent.

Styles Of Trampoline Tents

With several different types of tents available, you need to determine what features your kids will enjoy most. Some models of tents have a variety of features that make them more versatile than others.

There are both free-standing tents that set up directly on the jump mat or tents that incorporate the uprights of your trampoline enclosure.

Clubhouse Tent

A clubhouse style tent may have net window openings for lots of light and views. It may also have roll-down covers for the openings to ‘close’ the windows for privacy.

These clubhouse trampolines are made in all sorts of colorful designs. Pink and purple colors especially for girls, a circus big top and a wild west theme for boys are just a few of the styles you’ll find available in many sizes.

Camping Tent

Another design is the camping style tent. It’s more like the tents used for roughing it. It’s lower in height, has few windows and gives protection against the elements. Perfect for camping out, a trampoline camping tent gives kids the fun of sleeping outdoors in all kinds of weather without the hard ground and crawly bugs.

Trampoline Roof

If you use a trampoline enclosure, you can attach a fabric roof to the enclosure uprights to create a covered tent-like environment. The roof provides shelter from the sun as well as from rain. This makes a perfect shady, bug-free place to hang out and relax or even sleep under the stars.

If you are considering buying a trampoline, you should check out the styles of tents available for the models you’re considering. Since you may very likely be adding a tent to your trampoline at some point, you might as well investigate what’s available. It may save you time and aggravation in the future.

 

What Do Doctors Say About Trampolines?

When I was first considering a trampoline for my family, I started by looking into what the doctors had to say about it. Particularly, the opinions of orthopedists were important to me, since it would be my children’s bones that were going to be primarily at risk when it came to jumping. They certainly had quite a bit to say as well.

Doctors about Trampolines

Not Very Happy

To say that most doctors I read were not very happy about the proliferation of backyard trampolines would be an understatement. They each had their own pet peeves, but ultimately they felt that trampolines were generally unsafe and couldn’t be trusted in most cases.

In fact, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) has said unequivocally that, “Domestic and international research indicates that trampolines should not be used in the home environment, routine physical education classes, or in outdoor playgrounds.” This obviously made me worry a bit about agreeing to get a trampoline before doing the research.

Then I continued to read and learned that in many cases, what doctors tended to be afraid of was less the use of trampolines in general, but rather they feared he misuse of trampolines. Even further in their statement is the comment, “Safety information is given by manufacturers, retailers, medical groups and government authorities, but many owners fail to heed this advice. While safety measures may help minimize severe injuries, the amount of effort required to properly prepare a location, the diligence required to maintain the trampoline mat, springs and frame, and the degree of time and expertise required to properly supervise trampoline use are frequently lacking.”

I also found at least one statement by orthopedist Dr. Robert D. Galpin who said, “You can’t put kids in a glass bubble. They’re kids. But families go out and buy these things … and I have this pet peeve about more than one kid on a trampoline, just because of the nature of the trauma I’ve seen.” Galpin is right to worry about that, since not only can a bad bounce send two people flying into one another at high speed, but at its maximum stretch there is no difference between a trampoline mat and the ground, so one kid bouncing slightly behind another can fly up to ten feet in the air then land on a surface with no give, resulting in serious injury.

How to Reduce the Chance of Injuries

You can’t completely remove all injuries from trampolining, but you can significantly reduce the chances of it happening by observing and enforcing some basic rules.

1. No more than one person jumping at a time – This means that your kids will have to share and take turns, but having two or more people on the trampoline changes the shape of the mat, making it harder to compensate for bounces.

2. Having spotters actively watching the activity – Don’t let your kids play unsupervised. Make sure that you have people there actively watching them to make sure they’re not doing anything dangerous. This means no somersaults or bouncing off the enclosure net on purpose.

3. Make sure your child is at least six years of age – Children below the age of six should not be using trampolines. They are not responsible enough to understand the rules and their bodies are still developing in a way that the activity could cause damage. Even when your child is old enough, make sure they know the rules and can go over them with you regularly.

4. Make sure your safety equipment is sufficient and in good working order – There should not be metal parts on the frame or springs that are not covered by padding at least an inch thick. The safety enclosure net should be firmly attached to the frame or, preferably, the mat itself with no large holes that can be slipped through. All of the parts should be in good working order and not show signs of wear. If anything is broken it should be repaired or replaced immediately and before anybody else uses the trampoline.

Another thing you may want to check is whether your insurance covers trampoline injuries since many don’t as well as whether your home owner’s association allows them or requires you to sign a rider in order to own one.

After looking into everything, I decided that I was still comfortable getting my children a trampoline. I know that I will not be able to protect them perfectly, but I have enough confidence that they will follow the rules. While it is still possible that injuries can occur, following these tips from the AAOS can help reduce the chance enough that I am willing to make the effort to let them have one.