Trampolines have been a common sight in backyards throughout Florida for decades. The risk of suffering a trampoline accident injury has been a concern for as long as the devices have been a part of the American landscape. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, emergency room visits for trampoline injuries have jumped to almost 100,000 a year. While the overall number of ER visits increased between 2010 to 2014, the number of at-home trampoline accidents has remained relatively steady. What is causing this increase in the number of accidents?
Expansion of trampoline parks increasing the risk of injuries
Growth in the popularity of trampolines as a recreational activity over the past two decades has coincided with the introduction of privately-operated, commercial trampoline parks. The number of parks in operation has increased from about 40 in 2011 to more than 280 three years later. The number of parks continues to increase at a rate of up to six parks opening for business each month. Industry estimates place the number of people participating in activities at these parks at 50 million annually.
Doctors have reported seeing more severe injuries related to accidents at trampoline parks than they do for trampoline injuries suffered at home. They attribute this to the ability of participants to attain greater heights on the commercial equipment than is normally possible on trampolines sold for at-home use.
Types of injuries associated with trampoline use
Injuries suffered by individuals due to accidents involving trampolines at home and at commercial facilities include the following:
- Elbow injuries and fractures
- Injuries and fractures to forearms
- Leg fractures and injuries
- Hip and thigh injuries
- Spine and back injuries
- Head injuries and concussions
Adults aren’t the only ones experiencing injuries at trampoline parks. Promotion of the parks as an activity for young children has raised concerns about the risk of injuries. Often these injuries are caused by the constant pounding the body is subjected to when jumping up and down on a trampoline.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends keeping children off trampolines until they are at least six years of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents prevent all children from using trampolines as a recreational activity.
Injury to Florida boy brings call for change
A recent story about a Florida toddler diagnosed with a fracture of his thigh bone has prompted people to suggest trampoline parks should be forced to impose age restrictions on participants. Doctors treating the 3-year-old place him in a cast restricting movement from his waist down. According to the parents, physicians believe that the fracture was caused by the constant jumping associated with trampoline use.
Children are more likely to suffer an injury in a trampoline accident than adults. One study of ER visits found the average age of individuals injured on trampolines to be 13. Physicians have also reported a high rate of hospital admissions in children with one out of every 11 children injured in trampoline accidents being admitted to a hospital.
One of the recommendations made to improve safety at commercial facilities is the creation of uniform guidelines for operation. As it currently stands, each facility has its own procedures and rules for its operation and use. Experts have recommended the following minimum standards to ensure safety:
- Sufficient number of staff members present to watch those using equipment
- Proper training for staff members in the safe use of equipment at a facility
- Regularly scheduled safety inspections and maintenance of all equipment
- Replacement of old, outdated equipment
- Daily inspection of all safety equipment, including padding
- Replacement of padding showing signs of wear and tear
Guidelines for parents to ensure trampoline safety
Whether a trampoline is in someone’s backyard or at one of the many trampoline parks and facilities, parents should not rely on other people supervising their children. Some of the things parents can do to ensure a child’s safety while using a trampoline include:
- Never allow children to use the equipment without adult supervision.
- Teach children to how to safely use trampolines before allowing them to jump.
- Only allow one person at a time to jump on a trampoline.
- Ensure that trampolines have protective netting to prevent falls from the equipment while jumping.
- Do not perform or allow high-risk maneuvers, such as somersaults.
- Position spotters to prevent someone from falling off the equipment while jumping.
- Inspect protective padding and safety equipment to ensure it is in good condition. If it is not, report the problem to facility management immediately, and do not use the equipment. For home trampolines, parents should repair or replace damaged or worn equipment and padding.
- Do not allow children under six years of age to use trampolines
- Take appropriate measures, such as removing steps or ladders, to prevent children from climbing onto a trampoline when an adult is not present to supervise them.
Regardless of where the injury takes place, children or adults hurt in a trampoline accident should see a doctor right away. They will be able to accurately assess the extent of the damage.
What to do if a trampoline accident happens
If a trampoline accident happens, do not leave the facility without reporting it to management. You should take pictures and make a note of the time it occurred and the names and contact information of staff members and witnesses who might have observed what took place. Your next step should be to speak with an experienced Tampa Bay attorney. The attorneys at Kinney, Fernandez & Boire, P.A. will provide you with a complimentary case evaluation to determine your legal options.