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The Great British Trampoline Scandal!

Most Saturday afternoons we happily laugh at kids falling off trampolines or landing on the springs or frame on ITV’s You’ve been Framed. So popular are these trampoline mishaps they tend to get their own 1 or 2 minute compilation slot on the show, but is the reality just light hearted fun or should we be more concerned.

Trampolines have been one of those toys over recent years that have retained the must have status. Their popularity continues to grow as the major retailers now see trampolines as a major source of spring and summer time revenue but should we be more concerned about the safety of our little jumpers than we seem to be at the moment?

Parents do accept that using trampolines can result in injury. On the whole they also know that some basic jumper rules can help reduce the number and severity of these injuries but like with many things the thought process of ….. ”well they are available in the shops so they must be safe” prevails.

I would agree with this thought process when it comes to baby seats for cars or pushchairs and prams for example, and children’s toys have European safety standards to adhere to. How therefore has one of the most popular and potentially dangerous toys of all time fallen through the net? It is crazy but true that there is no safety standard in Europe for domestic trampolines. Absolutely nothing at all to ensure that the mat is made of a material that is durable enough to cope with repetitive activity like bouncing. Nothing to make sure that the safety pads are going to be effective. There is no obligation for suppliers to make sure that when you buy a trampoline, you have to buy a safety enclosure as well.

I also have friends who still have the attitude that the kids have got to learn somehow and the school of hard knocks is just as good a way as any…. and that there weren’t any safety nets or pads in our day and I did ok! The problem is they don’t fully understand how many accidents happen each year on trampolines and more worryingly how serious they can be.

A recent Local Government Association Press Release warned parents that over the period of the summer as many as 18,000 children could be injured on trampolines, 40% of which will require surgery. So that’s over 7,000 kids needing surgery each summer alone. Is there any other product out there that would be allowed to generate such a statistic?

So what, over the years, have manufacturers been doing to minimise these serious injuries. They have added padding to cover the springs I hear them say and in fairness you can't buy a trampoline nowadays without padding. They have also added safety enclosures to stop the jumper falling off the trampoline. This must have made a difference, right? Wrong! Research published in 2012 in the British Medical Journal looked whether safety pads and enclosures actually reduced the number of children admitted to hospital in the US between 2002 and 2007. Before this time, pads and enclosures were not mandatory. The research showed that even though pads and enclosures were now required because of new safety legislation, the number of accidents that these measures were meant to prevent did not reduce at all.

There is one company out there though that took a different view, Springfree Trampoline. They started with a blank piece of paper when designing their trampoline rather than a piece of paper with a traditional spring based trampoline on it. Once they had analysed exactly what aspects of trampolining caused injury they set about removing those things from their design. Rather than covering up the hard steel frame with padding, which research tells us appears not to reduce injuries, they removed it altogether from the jumping surface creating a soft edge to the trampoline. The rigid enclosure poles which hold up the net on most spring based trampolines have been replaced by flexible rods which ‘give’ when you run at the net only to bring you back softly on to the jumping area. These technological innovations are making a huge impact in the fight to keep children out of hospital.

The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health published research earlier this year showing that a significantly lower proportion of injuries were caused by falling off or striking the trampoline with the Springfree Trampoline when compared with traditional, spring based trampolines in both Australia and the USA.

When looking at how effective Springfree Trampolines are at reducing accidents, and assuming the user remembers to close the door, they reduce injuries avoidable by design by up to 98%.

I have 2 girls of my own and I can honestly say that our trampoline will have delivered the best pound per play value of any toy throughout their childhood. They use it all the time, summer, winter, rain or shine and my wife and I confront the same problems faced by all other trampoline owning parents, namely how do we allow them to jump safely. There are a number of basic rules that if followed will reduce the risks. They are not always easy to enforce but they are really important. The three main rules in our house are;

  • One at a time. Hard to enforce but RoSPA reports that over 70% of trampoline injuries occur when there is more than one jumper on the trampoline.
  • No flips. Sounds boring I know but the potential dangers to the neck and spine mean this is a must.
  • Close the door. Even the enclosure on the safest trampoline in the world will be less effective if there is a large hole in it caused by not doing up the zip.

Trampolines are great healthy fun and can be joyed safely. For more information about Springfree Trampolines and why they are the safest trampolines in the world call one of our team on 08444 938080 or visit