Soar safely

Published 10:33 am Friday, July 6, 2012

Patricia Ferguson spends a lot of time traveling throughout Bertie County.

As an activist and local volunteer, she is moving around the county to provide aid and help citizens with needs whenever she can.

Recently, however, she has noticed a disturbing trend in outdoor play.

“We talk so much about the role technology plays in the life of our kids and how they need more outdoor activities to remain active and they do,” she said. “But parents need to be aware of the dangers associated with trampolines and take the necessary precautions to keep their kids safe.”

Ferguson said she had seen numerous trampolines throughout the county and indeed the region where children played alone and where safety guards were not in place.

“Kids love trampolines and they can be a lot of fun,” Ferguson said. “As I travel around the county, I see kids bouncing around having a good time not realizing the potential danger that exists. What is concerning is that families may not understand the risk their kids face, especially if they are unsupervised.

“Parents would do well being cautious about allowing their kids on a trampoline without strict supervision,” she continued. “The goal is for the kids to have outdoor fun without injuries. Let’s keep kids safe by explaining the do’s and don’ts of trampoline safety and watch them soar safely to new heights while having fun at the same time.”

Dr. Jay L. Hoecker of the Mayo Clinic said trampolines can be a source of danger and indicated the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests they never be used.

Hoecker, however, said there are some guides to safety if a parent chooses to allow their use.

The first is to install the trampoline enclosure and cover the springs, hooks and frames with shock-absorbing pads.

It is also important to place it on level ground a safe distance from houses, trees and other structures. Hoecker even suggest placing it in a pit so as to be level with the ground.

He also suggested limiting activity on the trampoline by allowing one person to use the trampoline at a time and always providing supervision.

Others agree with Hoecker’s concerns.

The website suggests similar tips to trampoline usage, but goes further in saying that children under six should not be allowed to use them at all.

The website also stresses reading the owner’s manual to the trampoline and obeying its limits particularly when it comes to the weight limit.

Most injuries from the trampoline are to the upper part of the body.

Most childhood accidents from trampolines occur in the upper extremities, such as the arms and wrists, says Meghan Imrie, MD, a clinical assistant professor of pediatric orthopedics at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford, California, according to the site.

“It comes from falling improperly,” Dr. Imrie explained. “When you fall, your first instinct is to put your arms out in front of you, so that’s the area with the highest risk of injury.”

The professor also said ultimately the decision on whether or not to allow trampoline usage is up to the parent.

There is no definitive answer on whether trampolines are safe to use, though caution is a must if you greenlight the activity.

“It’s a trade-off between having fun and learning balance and coordination and the risks that are inherent to using a trampoline,” Imrie said.