Trampolines are a lot of fun to have in the backyard for your kids to play on. However, you have to make sure you are taking the proper precautions to ensure the safety of your kids and their friends.
While trampolines look innocent enough, there are many hidden dangers and safety hazards associated with them. Trampolines have been linked to numerous emergency room visits, broken bones, sprains, and nasty falls. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know as a parent to be prepared and keep your kids and their friends safe while having a lot of fun on your backyard trampoline. More specifically, we’ll cover:
- Trampoline injury statistics
- Safety precautions by age group
- Ground rules you should set for your kids
- How to set up a safe trampoline area in your backyard
- Important safety and maintenance checks
Let’s get into it.
Trampoline Injury Data: Are They Safe?
Injuries from trampolines are unfortunately fairly common, and even deaths, while very rare, have occurred. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are nearly 100,000 estimated emergency room visits for trampoline-related injuries every year. Thankfully, that number has been decreasing slightly in recent years.
Kids – and adults – can hurt themselves on trampolines in several ways, here are a few examples:
- Multiple users: Data from the AAP shows that over 75% of trampoline injuries happen when multiple people are jumping together.
- Falls off the trampoline: Someone missing their footing and falling off the trampoline accounts for 27-39% of all trampoline-related injuries.
- Falling into the frame or springs: Outside of the mat, there are some rougher components to a trampoline that accounts for about 20% of injuries each year.
More than 90% of trampoline-related injuries are to children, and the majority of them are aged 5 – 14.
Leg injuries are the most common, accounting for 34-50% of trampoline injuries. Of those injuries, over 60% involved an injury to the ankle. Arm and upper body injuries account for 24-36% of injury cases. Head and neck injuries are less common, but still account for 10-17% of trampoline injuries with 0.5% resulting in permanent brain damage.
According to Dr. Shaughnessy, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, about 20 to 30 percent of kids who get injured on trampolines will require surgery.
But don’t get rid of that trampoline just yet! Despite the risk, most injuries were minor sprains or fractures – and could have been prevented if they took the proper safety measures. The kids can get their dose of bouncing fun and a workout by following these trampoline safety guidelines.
Trampoline Safety by Age
Because of the risk of injury, not everyone should play on a trampoline. It’s recommended that children under six shouldn’t use a full-size trampoline at all. For toddlers and preschoolers, put an old mattress on the floor for them to jump on or snag a smaller trampoline designed for that age instead. For more on sizes and shapes, head over to our guide on trampoline sizes.
Under Age 6
Children under six years old shouldn’t use a full-size trampoline, but they can enjoy a mini-trampoline with parental supervision and by jumping safely. Safety precautions include keeping it on a flat and steady ground surface, only one child jumping at a time, holding on to the grab bar, and not making gymnastic maneuvers or somersaults.
Ages 6 – 10
Older children can use a full-size trampoline with close parental supervision and only while following all of the safety guidelines below.
Young children’s bones are soft and are prone to breaking. While trying to jump off the trampoline may look like a good idea to them at the time, they don’t want to spend the next 6-8 weeks in a cast. Just ask that unfortunate kid who broke his arm the week before the swimming pool opened for the season.
Pre-teens, teens, and adults should follow all of the safety precautions while using a trampoline. While most trampoline-related injuries occur to younger kids, there are many teens and adults who have fallen and suffered sprains or fractures as well. Play safe!
Safety Ground Rules
For everyone’s safety, the following rules should be a non-negotiable condition for the kids to use the trampoline.
- As with all sports and exercise activity, clear using the trampoline with your doctor first, especially if your child has an injury or a pre-existing medical condition. If your child is recovering from a recent sprain or fracture, your doctor may advise you to steer clear of the trampoline until it is fully recovered.
- The trampoline must be on a ground-level, flat, stable soft surface such as a grassy backyard. If the trampoline looks or feels unsteady, do not use it!
- The trampoline’s exposed springs, hooks, and any sharp or hard parts should be covered with padding to avoid anyone injuring themselves by accidentally jumping or falling on them.
- Check the trampoline carefully before each use. If there are any tears or holes on the trampoline surface, don’t use it.
- Before using the trampoline, check to make sure there isn’t anything on the surface. If any leaves, water, or toys have fallen onto it, remove them before any kids are allowed to start using the trampoline.
- An adult should supervise children jumping on the trampoline to make sure that they follow all of the rules and be available to help if anyone does get injured.
- Adhere to your trampoline’s maximum weight limit and safety warnings.
- Keep strict rules around the manufacturer’s maximum capacity requirements. Not many of the common shapes and sizes can accommodate multiple jumpers.
- Remove shoes before jumping. In addition to it being safer to jump without shoes, you get the bonus benefit of reducing the wear and tear of your trampoline mat and extending its life. We recommend jumping in trampoline socks that have slip-resistant bottoms.
- Don’t wear long dresses or pants or baggy clothing that you could trip on while jumping. Also, check your pockets before jumping for anything that could injure you if you land on it while jumping. For example, don’t jump with any sharp objects.
- Never enter or exit a trampoline any other way except the normal ladder entrance. As fun as it may look, we highly recommend avoid jumping from the trampoline to another surface or into a pool or from a slide to a trampoline.
- Do not use the trampoline if it is wet. It is a big risk for slipping.
- The trampoline must have a net surrounding it. Do not use the trampoline if the net is missing or ripped. Kids have fallen off a trampoline through a hole in the net.
- Take special care when attempting any flips, somersaults, gymnastic moves, or high jumping. If the trampoline is being used for gymnastic classes or under careful supervision, proper safety equipment such as a harness must be used.
- Jump in the middle of the trampoline. Stay away from the edges to avoid landing on the hard outer surface of the trampoline.
- The kids who are watching and waiting for the turn should stand a safe distance away to avoid anyone jumping or falling off into them. Designate and mark off a safe waiting zone. No one should ever sit under the trampoline when someone is jumping on it!
- Take away the trampoline ladder when they’re done playing so that young children don’t climb up to use the trampoline without adult supervision.
Setting up a Safe Trampoline Area in your Backyard
One of the most important factors in trampoline safety is to set it up properly in the first place! When you buy a trampoline, it is our responsibility to make sure that it will be used under the safest conditions and in the most secure environment possible.
Does Your Insurance Cover It?
Before you even install the trampoline, we recommend confirming that your homeowner’s insurance covers trampolines. Considering the possible risks of injuries, no matter how safely you set it up, it is important if other people such as your children’s friends or neighbors – invited or not – will be using the trampoline.
Check Local Laws
Also, find out if your area has any laws requiring a trampoline to be securely fenced in, like a swimming pool, to keep children out.
Look at Safety Ratings
If you haven’t yet bought your trampoline, look for one with excellent safety ratings and has passed performance and safety testing. Look for one that is high-quality and will withstand the weather and sun’s UV rays to avoid it ripping and becoming damaged.
Find a Flat Surface
Find a flat and sturdy spot to install the trampoline. Never put the trampoline on a raised platform where someone could fall off of it from an even greater height! The greater the height, the greater the fall.
It’s best to put the trampoline on a soft surface such as grass or sand.
If you don’t have a soft surface and the trampoline is going to be on hard ground like concrete, make sure you put down soft mats or mulch under and around it to soften any falls. We recommend creating an area with a soft surface of about eight feet around the trampoline.
Keep the trampoline away from any trees, utility wires and lines, fences, and other equipment. Don’t tempt any young aspiring acrobats from trying to vault onto the trampoline from a nearby tree branch.
We also don’t want anyone getting hurt by hitting a tree or fence if they fall off the trampoline.
If your trampoline doesn’t have a no-tip design – or to secure it better even if it does – get a trampoline anchor kit that secures the equipment into the ground.
Similar in concept to anchors that connect furniture to the walls to prevent them from toppling over, these trampoline anchors will secure it to the ground so they won’t tip over if someone jumps on the edge.
Read our article on how to anchor a trampoline for tips on setup.
Light It Up
Ensure there is sufficient lighting in your backyard to be able to see the kids on the trampoline even when there isn’t much sunlight.
Get a Safety Net
If your trampoline did not come with a high safety net that surrounds it, get one before anyone can use it. While a net doesn’t replace all of the safety measures and adult supervision, it can prevent many falls and injuries.
A net that has a double-layer at the entrance that allows kids to get onto the trampoline and off it while still keeping it covered with a net is the safest one.
If you’re purchasing a net, make sure it is compatible with your trampoline and the right size. You don’t want to get one that is too big and leaves gaps between the trampoline and the net, or too small and won’t surround the full surface.
Ladders Help Too
If your trampoline didn’t come with a ladder, consider getting one to help the kids climb onto and down from the trampoline safely and avoid them having to jump off of it to the ground. However, once they’re done with the trampoline session, store the ladder away so the kids can’t climb onto the trampoline when you’re not there to supervise them.
Important Trampoline Safety and Maintenance Checks
It is just as critical to keep your trampoline well-maintained and in safe conditions as it is to set it up safely.
- Before using the trampoline, check that the supporting bars are straight and even and that there aren’t any springs or parts that are uncovered for someone to hurt themselves on.
- Always make sure that the trampoline surface is dry and clear from any debris before allowing anyone to jump. Also, check under the trampoline to make sure that there aren’t any toys or objects under the mat. Someone could hurt themself if they jump down onto the mat and it hits an object underneath the surface.
- Regularly check your trampoline for rips in the mat or netting, worn-out parts, and damaged areas. Always inspect that the trampoline’s landing areas are covered with protective padding and that the springs aren’t broken or exposed.
- If any part of the trampoline is damaged, do not use it until it is repaired. If you can’t repair the trampoline to its optimum safety level, then it is time to bid adios and look into getting another – possibly better quality – one instead.
Trampolines are fun, and jumping can be great exercise – if you use it right. Trampolines aren’t for everyone, but if you follow the safety guidelines, you can have hours of fun and keep the kids entertained all day – and out of the house – with a trampoline.