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Can garden trampolines ever be safe? Study reveals true extent of injuries

PUBLISHED: 16:18 24 July 2018

Letting more than one child bounce at the same time on a trampoline is not a good idea, says RoSPA,  60% of injuries occur when more than one person is on the trampoline.
Picture: Getty Images

Letting more than one child bounce at the same time on a trampoline is not a good idea, says RoSPA, 60% of injuries occur when more than one person is on the trampoline. Picture: Getty Images

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Family safety charity RoSPA has issued advice to help parents ensure their children stay safe on garden trampolines this summer after a study revealed the true scale of injuries. But does anyone ever follow the guidelines when it comes to home trampolines? Sheena Grant reports.

When Julie Casey bought her children a garden trampoline she laid down some strict ground rules: always make sure the safety net is done up, only one child bouncing at a time and definitely no somersaults.

Within days, all her rules had been broken and there seemed little she could do to about it.

“It all started to go wrong when my son had a friend round to play,” says Julie, who lives near Eye. “He told me he was allowed to do somersaults on his trampoline at home and proceeded to show me how proficient he was at them. I told him I’d rather he didn’t do them on my trampoline and explained why, much to my son’s horror. I was a kill-joy, he told me later, and none of his friends would ever want to visit his house again because of my stupid rules, which no-one else had.

“It was true, at least the last bit was: no-one else we knew seemed to enforce any rules around how their children used garden trampolines. I was in a minority of one and because of that, no-one was ever going to take any notice of me.

“At various birthday parties and play-dates over the years I have seen everything from multiple children bouncing on the same trampoline to one child lying down while others jump over them, wrestling, back flips, front flips and handstands. Sometimes someone will tell them to ‘be careful’ or ‘take it in turns’ when things start to get out of hand but this is offered merely as advice and is rarely, that I have seen anyway, actually enforced.

“On one occasion, one of my three children went to a friend’s house and played on a trampoline which, unknown to me, had a safety net peppered with holes. He was catapulted through one of these holes when double-bouncing with his friend and hit his head. Luckily, he was OK but it demonstrated the problem. Most people have no idea how dangerous these trampolines can be.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of accidents (RoSPA) shares Julie’s concerns about garden trampolines.

But, it says, they provide a relatively inexpensive source of enjoyment and exercise for thousands of young children and many accidents can be avoided if simple safety rules are followed.

To coincide with the start of the summer holidays it has issued advice to help keep children safe on garden trampolines and revealed accident statistics that show the true scale of the problem.

A study by RoSPA, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and Oxford University Hospitals Trust estimates that 13,000 trampolining injuries are treated in English accident and emergency departments every year, at an annual cost to the NHS of £1.5million. Almost three quarters of the trampoline injuries in the study occurred in a home environment as they date from a period before the prevalence of commercial trampoline parks.

“Trampolining is a great source of aerobic exercise for children and a way for them to enjoy the outdoors, but if used incorrectly trampolines can also be a source of traumatic – and easily avoided – injuries,” says RoSPA. “Trampolining injuries can occur to all parts of the body, including the neck, arms, legs, face and head. Head and neck injuries are the most serious injuries associated with trampolines. The most common injuries are caused by awkward landings and include sprains or fractures to the wrist, forearm, elbow and collarbone.”

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, said: “We want to see kids getting outside to get fit, healthy and active, and learning to manage the risks they will encounter in everyday life.

“But injury stops play, and some of the injuries sustained on garden trampolines seen in A&E departments across the country can be really traumatic, not just for the child but for their family and friends too. However these are easily avoided by following our safety tips.”

The national estimates used in the RoSPA study were based on figures collected at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust between January 2012 and March 2014. In this period, nearly 21,000 children aged 0-19 attended A&E having suffered an injury, with 258 of these cases involving trampolines at home.

RoSPA says a new Emergency Care Data Set is now in operation at A&E departments across the UK and it is hoped that the system will provide fresh national data to further our understanding of home and leisure accidents, such as those involving trampolines.

For more information on garden trampoline safety, including what to look out for when buying, placing and maintaining trampolines, see www.rospa.com/trampolining.

Set some guidelines

RoSPA has the following garden trampoline safety advice for parents and carers:

Trampolining isn’t suitable for children under six - they’re not physically developed enough to control their bouncing

Adult supervision is no guarantee of safety. More than half of all trampoline accidents occur while under supervision. However a ‘spotter’ around the edge of the trampoline can greatly reduce this risk

Take turns - one at a time. 60% of injuries occur when more than one person is on the trampoline. The person weighing less is five times more likely to be injured

Don’t allow somersaults or complicated moves – unless trained and highly skilled

Don’t allow a bouncing exit

Never combine alcohol with trampolining. Children have been hurt while bouncing with adults who have been drinking at summer garden parties

Whatever your ability level, join a local club to learn new trampolining skills, ranging from the basics of landing safely to more advanced moves.

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