How to Set Up and Use a Backyard Trampoline Safely
Do you tear your hair out most days trying to get your kids moving? Now that spring is here and the sun is beginning to shine, how much better would it be for your children if they were playing outside in the fresh air after a long winter stuck inside gazing at a screen?
So if you want to get them exercising outside in the sunshine and actually enjoying it, then why not set up a trampoline in your garden? Kids love to bounce, jump and move their bodies and there is no better place to do it than on their very own trampoline.
Health Benefits of Trampoline Exercise
The health benefits for your kids of exercising on a trampoline for several hours a week are very real. It is a safe and very effective way for them to get their bodies moving. Jumping and bouncing are activities that children take to very naturally and the younger they start on the trampoline the better. For kids it feels more like play than exercise, so they will happily jump around for several hours without once thinking about the workout they are giving their bodies or feeling like they are in a gym lesson. It’s such good fun that they will be laughing and smiling, increasing their sense of vitality, wellbeing and optimism. Playing on a trampoline will give them a sense of freedom, unrestricted movement and trust in their bodies.
Because of the springiness of the surface, there is none of the wear and tear that the impact of running around on concrete and hard surfaces can inflict on young limbs.
Exercising on a trampoline also greatly improves kid’s coordination, often over a very short time period, and can help them develop better balance and agility. It will also increase oxygen capacity, help make the heart stronger and healthier, boost the immune system and metabolism, tone muscles and build strength and stamina.
But for all these great benefits for your kid’s health and happiness, there are several things you need to take into consideration before you set up a trampoline in your garden. Like most forms of exercise accidents can and do happen, so safety must be your number one priority. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents here in the UK there were 4,200 children under the age of 15 hurt in trampoline accidents in their own homes according to their latest figures from 2002. So what do you need to do to prevent your child becoming one of those statistics in the future?
Do a Risk Assessment of Your Garden
Now this might sound a bit boring and practical if you are just dying to rush out to the shops to surprise your kids with their very own trampoline, or even a bit technical. But keeping your children safe is paramount and a bit of forward planning and thought can really reduce the risks of them having an accident and hurting themselves. So what do you need to consider as, unfortunately, not every garden is suitable for a trampoline?
The sad fact is that not every garden is big enough or has enough flat ground to set up a trampoline for the kids. Before you buy one measure out what space you have. As well as the space for the equipment itself, you should have enough room to have at least 2.5 metres of empty space around the trampoline. This is an area that needs to be kept totally clear of any other objects, such as scooters, skateboards, toys, bikes and gardening tools. Pets should also be kept away from this area for their own safety and the safety of your child. Ideally this safe fall zone should have padded crash matting installed to soften any tumbles that might happen.
It needs to be positioned on a flat part of the garden, ideally on soft ground like lawn that will absorb the energy of all the jumping and bouncing. If there is no suitable area of grass, use cushioning materials like sand, soft wood chippings or specialised mats. Don’t set up a trampoline on bare concrete or paving stones, as it will really increase the chances of a more severe injury if a child does fall.
If there is no other option than to set it up on a hard surface, then the installation of safety netting and crash matting is vital. The area you choose should also not contain potential hazards such as fencing, bushes, and trees, washing lines or poles that a child could fall on or snag their clothing on. You also need to ensure that the trampoline is secured from the wind and will not blow over when a child is playing on it.
Choosing the Best Trampoline
The trampoline you choose should be of sturdy construction and conform to all the latest safety standards. As your choice involves the safety of your children and is hopefully going to be something that will be used for many years to come it makes sense to spend money on a quality, well-known brand of trampoline that comes with a guarantee and an excellent after sales service. It is not something to try to save money on. A cheap trampoline might look good in a catalogue or online, but its flimsy construction could be putting your kids at risk and will cost you more in the long run on maintenance and early replacement.
There are many models of trampoline to choose from these days, but if you are thinking of safety either choose one with protective features already fitted or install them before you let the kids loose on their exciting new piece of exercise equipment. These protective features include safety pads that completely cover any exposed hooks, springs and the frame, which should also be in a different colour to the mat so they stand out. Crash matting should also be placed around the base of the equipment and safety nets or cages installed so that a child cannot fall or accidentally bounce off their trampoline.
Trampoline Accidents and Injuries
Trampoline injuries can happen to any part of the body, but the most dangerous tend to be any head or neck injuries that occur so buy a model that comes with safety netting or fit a sturdy safety cage. This helps to stop a child from bouncing or falling off and potentially hitting the ground from at speed from a considerable height. If the trampoline gets damaged in any way, stop your kids from using it until you can get it repaired or replaced. If it collapsed while your child was playing on it or they landed on an exposed spring, they could injure themselves very seriously.
To help prevent accidents you will also need to implement and enforce some rules that your children may find boring and unnecessary. The most important of these is that only one child should be jumping on the trampoline at any one time. This might seem a bit of a killjoy as kids love playing with their friends, but the statistics show that 75% of all accidents happen when there is more than one person using the equipment at the same time.
The younger the child the more vulnerable they are to being hurt by being crashed into by others and adults should never go on a trampoline with small children. Also, pets should never be allowed to play with the kids while they are on the trampoline. If your kids are playing out on their trampoline, especially if they are under six, they do need to be supervised, so that you can see they are following the safety instructions you have given them.
Do You Have a Trampoline in Your Garden?
If you do have a group of kids playing in the garden, make sure that they stay a safe distance away from the trampoline if someone is jumping on it and they must never crawl underneath it. Children should be taught to get onto the equipment carefully and safely and get off in the same way. Consider installing steps if your model does not have them and do not allow kids to jump off the trampoline. Again, although you want your children to enjoy themselves do not allow somersaults or complicated stunts, as these carry a high risk and should be reserved for classes with a trained instructor present.
As long as your trampoline has been set up safely, is a sturdy model with plenty of safety features, is properly looked after and maintained and your kids know the rules, they will be able to enjoy many hours of fun and healthy exercise outside in the sunshine. Taking the time to choose the right equipment and assembling it correctly helps to minimise the risk of an injury that could potentially be disabling or even fatal, so it is time well spent.
© 2014 CMHypno