If you asked a child what superpower they would like to have, one answer is often the chance to fly. Trampolines attract many kids in their ability to give them the chance to float through the air, even if just for just a second. However, a trampoline is not a toy and can be incredibly dangerous.

“While most trampoline injuries are muscle injuries or broken legs, not fatalities, we also see serious head and neck injuries,” says Cherie Sage, State Director for Safe Kids Kansas. “A concussion or an upper spine injury can be devastating to a child.”

In 2004, approximately 93,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for trampoline-related injuries — up from nearly 83,400 in 1996. More than 90 percent of these injuries happened on home trampolines, and Safe Kids Kansas joins the American Academy of Pediatrics in recommending that children do not use trampolines at home.

Based on the AAP’s guidelines, Safe Kids Kansas recommends that trampolines be used only as part of a supervised athletic training program such as competitive gymnastics, and not at home, at school or on playgrounds. In addition, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that no children under 6 years old use a full-size trampoline. Safe Kids Kansas supports both recommendations.

Safe Kids Kansas cautions parents and caregivers to look for these features in a supervised trampoline program:

* Make sure there is only one person on the trampoline at a time.

* The frame, springs and floor around the trampoline are appropriately padded and the equipment is inspected frequently.

* Trained spotters are always used and a safety harness or spotting belt is available. Ideally, the trampoline is in a pit so its surface is closer to the ground.

* There is no ladder near the trampoline, where it could be used by unsupervised children to gain access. The trampoline should not be accessible to children when not in use and there is no active adult supervision.

* Jumpers do not attempt stunts or skills beyond their training and demonstrated ability.

“Remember, these guidelines are for organized training programs led by qualified trainers with proper safety measures. A trampoline is not a toy and kids should not have access to one at home,” says Sage.

Although many trampoline injuries involve aerial stunts, falling onto the ground or floor, or landing on the springs or frame, more than half of trampoline injuries involve colliding with another jumper. “As you add more jumpers on a trampoline, the risk of injury to the participants increases,” says Sage. “Even trampoline manufacturers say there shouldn’t be more than one person on the trampoline at a time.”

For more information about sports and recreation safety, call 785-296-1223 or visit www.usa.safekids.org.

Visit us at www.safekidskansas.org.