Trampolines – Keep kids safe

It may seem like a trampoline can provide hours of fun for your children, and perhaps their friends, but did you know the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (www.aap.org) issued an advisory against recreational trampoline use in 2012? This means the AAP does not feel trampolines used for anything other than structured sports training programs can be made safe enough to adequately prevent injury to children. And, there are also other issues to consider, including whether or not your homeowners insurance will cover injuries that are the result of trampoline use on your property.

The AAP has found that some common safety tips for trampoline use really don’t provide a significant decrease in the risk of injury to children, regardless if the trampoline is above ground or in ground. Namely, using nets or pads around trampolines has not shown to decrease injury.

The type of activity performed on the trampoline is also prone to cause injury in children. Merely jumping on the device can cause sprains and contusions, but consider the potential for cervical spine injuries that can result when children attempt stunts like somersaults and flips. According to the AAP, these types of stunts can cause permanent and devastating injury.

If you are determined to install or keep a trampoline on your property, despite warnings against it, consider implementing a rigorous safety plan to try and prevent injuries as much as possible. This can include constant adult supervision when children are using the trampoline, making sure all springs are securely attached, checking for holes or tears in the jumping mat, and keeping the jumping area clean of debris. In addition, consider establishing safety rules all users must follow, such as no stunts (i.e. somersaults or flips), no roughhousing, no more than one person on the mat at a time, and no other toys such as balls allowed on the mat. And, while Fido might like to play with the kids, it’s best to keep all pets off of the trampoline at all times. They, too, can suffer serious injury from falling or being thrown off the mat.

Before purchasing or installing a trampoline, check with your local independent insurance agent to see how it will affect your homeowner policy. Insurance companies vary on the level of acceptance for trampolines. Some companies might exclude all losses that result from the trampoline, while others might deny all coverage, which could result in your homeowners policy being cancelled. Don’t wait until an accident happens to find out if you’re covered. Your agent can also advise you on the need for additional higher limits found in personal umbrella coverage for high risk losses such as this.

And, discuss the use of trampolines with your pediatrician. He or she will know the potential dangers and help you make the best decision to keep your children safe.