Trampolines are a popular piece of equipment among children of all ages as almost all kids love to jump. But unfortunately, they also tend to be one of the most dangerous. In 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) claims that a total of 98,000 injuries were reported, with children being the most likely victim. As a result, they are taking a stance and saying trampolines aren't safe for children. But injuries to your own are not your only concern. You can actually be held liable for accidents and even wrongful death if you're not careful. Here's how to prevent injuries and avoid a lawsuit when it comes to your trampoline.
Teach Children Safe Use
It's not good enough to know how a trampoline should be safely used; you need to teach these precautions to your children and their friends.
1. One person at a time—it might be challenging when your kids' friends are around, but let them know that only one person can jump at a time to avoid accidents.
2. No foreign objects—you'd think it would be common sense, but kids aren't world-famous for this kind of stuff. Make sure they know that things like bikes, sticks, radios, and the family pet are NOT allowed on the trampoline. Not when they're jumping. Not ever.
3. No showing off—do not allow your children to show off their latest gymnastic tricks like doing somersaults in the air and flipping off the side. These are often the cause of neck and spine injuries.
4. Stay in the middle—jumping directly in the center of a trampoline is the safest way to enjoy it. When you get too close to the edge, you risk falling off or flipping the equipment over on its side.
Keep it On a Flat Surface
Your trampoline should always be maintained on a flat surface. This minimizes the risk of tipping and injuries. You should check the equipment at regular intervals, particularly if it gets used frequently, as sometimes it can slide across and onto uneven ground.
Install At Ground Level
This is no guarantee that an injury won't occur, but with a ground-level trampoline, if the victim does come off the equipment, they don't have as far to fall. It also ensures that the trampoline remains flat, so you don't have to worry about it tipping over.
Perform Routine Inspections
You should regularly check your trampoline for weak spots like holes in the material and rusty or broken springs. Also check the foam padding around the trampoline. This material provides a cushion against the metal springs. Occasionally, parts of the padding can dry out and fall off.
Place a Fence Around the Perimeter
Trampolines are known as an attractive nuisance. And in almost every state and every case you'll be held liable for injuries, even if some random kid down the street decides to use it without your permission. So you pretty much need to treat a trampoline like a swimming pool. Place a barrier, like a locked fence, around the equipment or your yard.
Don't Be Falsely Reassured By Safety Nets
Lots of parents think putting up a safety net around the trampoline will prevent injuries. Unfortunately, this has led to a false sense of security. According to Dr. Michele LaBotz with the AAP, those safety nets really haven't done anything to decrease the number of accidents.
Check Your Homeowner's Insurance
Not all homeowner's policies cover injuries from trampolines, so check with yours to see if it's covered. Some will only make you pay a "nuisance surcharge" while others will downright cancel the policy if they find one on the property after a routine inspection. Either way, you need to know what your rights and obligations are so you don't wind up with any bad surprises.
Communicate With Other Parents
While it may or may not protect you against liability, it still can't hurt to let the parents of visiting friends know that you own a trampoline. They may not want their child using it in which case you will have to be vigilant in making sure they don't sneak off to jump. Like the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Know When You're Liable
When it comes to providing a safe environment for other children, you need to know when you're liable in case an injury does occur. Neglecting to place a fence around the perimeter, allowing others to use it when knowing it's not safe, and not providing adequate supervision to ensure safe use are all things that can cause you to be held accountable.
When you treat your trampoline as a piece of equipment instead of a toy or backyard babysitter and also act aggressively to ensure the safety of all users, you're much less likely to deal with an injury or a lawsuit.
As always, if you or anyone you know is the victim of a trampoline accident, contact an attorney for legal advice, or navigate to this web-site for more info.