What you should know about trampolines and bounce houses

July 26, 2017 | by Uzma Muneer, D.O.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

You may want to think twice before taking your kids to the next trampoline park or inflatable bounce house party. Before you know it, innocent fun can result in sprains, strains, broken bones, or rarely, something potentially even more serious.

It happened recently to a 3-year-old boy in Florida, who fell and broke his femur after jumping on a trampoline with his parents right next to him. The accident left the boy in a body cast from the waist down. Another 10-year-old girl recently broke her nose after bumping heads with another child on a moon bounce.

Although these play sets can be fun to jump on, thousands of people are injured on trampolines and bounce houses each year. Common injuries include:

  • Broken bones (sometimes surgery is needed)
  • Concussions and other head injuries
  • Sprains/strains
  • Bruises, scrapes and cuts
  • Head and neck injuries

Parents should be aware of the risks these play sets can pose and how to minimize accidents.

Most trampoline injuries happen on home trampolines. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cautioned against the use of home backyard trampolines for children:  

“Trampolines may be popular and a fun way to get exercise, but there are safer ways to encourage your children to be physically active, such as playing catch, riding a bike (don't forget a bike helmet), or playing a team sport.”

The AAP recommends the following safety precautions if you choose to use a trampoline:

  • Adult supervision at all times. (Although many injuries have occurred even with adult supervision).
  • Only one jumper on the trampoline at any given time. About 75 percent of trampoline injuries occur when there are multiple people using a trampoline.
  • Children younger than age 6 are at greatest risk of injury.
  • Avoid somersaults.
  • Ensure adequate protective padding on the trampoline that is appropriately placed.
  • Check all equipment often. When damaged, all parts should be repaired or replaced

As with trampolines, there have been a series of reported accidents involving bounce houses, usually from falls and faulty installation.

One 2012 study found that from 1990 to 2010 more than 64,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency departments for inflatable bouncer-related injuries. This past April, five children were injured when a strong wind picked up two bounce houses at a church carnival in South Carolina—and this was not the first incident of kids getting hurt because a bounce house went airborne.

The AAP offers bounce house safety guidelines for parents:

  • Follow all the recommended guidelines for safe installation and anchoring, and safe bouncing.
  • Ensure the bounce house is situated away from any fences, greenhouses, branches, etc.
  • Limit use to children age 6 and older.
  • Do not let children of significantly different sizes bounce at the same time.
  • Do not exceed the maximum number of children allowed to bounce at one time.
  • Remove footwear, eyeglasses, jewelry and any sharp object from pockets.
  • Food, drink, bottles, glasses etc. should not be taken onto the bounce house.
  • Follow the recommended height/weight requirements to bounce.
  • Supervision should be maintained all the times.
  • Children should not push other children off the inflatable. No flips or rough play.
  • Children should not be allowed to climb onto the outside walls.

Remember, within minutes, seemingly harmless fun can result in devastating consequences, even when parents are watching.

Learn more about children’s services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Have a minor cut, sprain or broken bone? We are ready to treat your non-emergency urgencies.

Read related blogs:

What every parent should know about childhood concussions

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