As winter draws near and families look for new ways to keep kids entertained indoors, many will visit trampoline parks - the latest trend in extreme activities that's taken off across the East Coast.
These parks aren't just for jumping. They typically feature vast warehouse-style rooms with interconnected trampolines and activities such as foam pits, dodgeball games, basketball hoops and more. They're a hit with kids of all ages, and a go-to for birthday parties.
It's all fun and games - until ...
Yet there's a darker side to these parks. The potential for serious injuries is difficult to ignore. In 2010, fewer than 600 people were injured at indoor trampoline parks. By contrast, in 2014, that number soared to nearly 7,000, according to a report from National Public Radio.
Emergency rooms across the United States have seen an influx of jumping injuries, especially:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Head injuries
Staying safe on the springs
Of course, many activities involve risks. Trampoline parks do provide a good form of exercise - and unbridled fun - for kids and adults alike.
Visitors often make the mistake of assuming these facilities are safe, but that's not always the case. Only a handful of states have adopted safety regulations for these parks. New Jersey is not among them.
You can decrease your risk of injury by choosing a safe, reputable facility. Look for one that follows the safety standards set out by the International Association of Trampoline Parks, which require:
- Properly maintained equipment
- Regular inspections
- Sufficient padding and netting
- An adequate staff-to-jumper ratio
Additionally, all parks should require patrons to follow safety rules such as:
- No more than one jumper per individual trampoline
- Separate jumping areas or times for adults and kids (based on size and age group)
- No children under age 6 (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics)
- No flips or somersaults
- No double-bouncing
- No pushing
- No scarves, hoods or other loose clothing that could catch on equipment
Even while following all the rules in the safest of facilities, you could still get seriously injured. You should always weigh the risks before jumping.