Trampoline parks have exploded in popularity in recent years. On any given weekend, these parks are at full capacity, with hundreds of kids bouncing around, jumping into foam pits and playing tag.
Today, trampoline parks have transformed into a billion-dollar industry. But are these parks safe places for kids to play?
Deaths and Injuries Soar
Emergency room visits related to trampoline park injuries jumped from 581 to 6,932within four years, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Approximately 90% of these injury victims were children.
The organization has advised against recreational trampoline use for all age groups, particularly for young children who are at the highest risk of injury.
A report from CBS News confirmed at least six deaths from injuries at these parks. The number could be much higher because many injured victims are forced to go into arbitration and sign confidentiality agreements that prevent them from speaking out.
The injuries sustained at trampoline parks are often life-changing, and can include:
- Broken legs and/or arms
- Wrist and hand fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back and neck cervical injuries
- Facial lacerations
- Sprained ankles
Injuries often occur when children fall off of the trampoline, and fall to the ground or onto a nearby object. Severe injuries can also occur when several children are using the trampoline at the same time and they collide with each other while bouncing or landing.
In many cases, several trampolines are connected to one another. When people jump, it creates waves of energy in all directions, and this can lead to a "double bounce" that can cause serious injury or death.
In one case, a couple visited a trampoline park in Virginia. The man, who was once a world-class gymnast, landed on his foot the wrong way, stumbled, and hit his head against a thinly padded wall. The impact caused his C2 vertebra to crack, constricting his airway and blood flow. This caused him to become paralyzed. The man was over 90% brain dead.
Members of the gymnastic community call these parks death parks.
Part of the problem with these parks is that the setup is dangerous. The foam pits that are adjacent to the trampolines are often too shallow. Trampolines are connected, which increases the risk of injury and death when multiple children bounce at the same time.
The Association of Trampoline Parks has said that there are some parks that do not adhere to "industry technical standards, and do not operate with safety at the forefront of their agendas."
States Taking Action
The spike in trampoline park injuries has caused some states to take action. Lawmakers in Utah recently passed a law to make trampoline parks safer. The state joins seven others in requiring annual inspections as well as more oversight from insurance companies.
Other countries are also taking action. In Canada, Technical Safety B.C. (TBSC) is calling for regulations on trampoline parks. The parks, the agency says, pose the same level of potential safety risk as other amusement park attractions.
Like in the U.S., trampoline parks have been around for nearly a decade in Canada, but they have never been regulated.
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