Have you been invited to a party at a trampoline park? Before you go, you may want to have the paramedics on stand-by.
Indoor trampoline parks and jump gyms are the hottest new places to throw birthday parties or just have fun with friends. They’re often warehouse-size rooms with wall-to-wall trampolines mixed with “soft landing” pits filled with foam balls where dozens, if not hundreds, of people at a time can jump, do backflips, try slam dunks into basketball nets and play dodgeball.
But experts say trampoline parks are danger zones and accidents waiting to happen. Trauma expert Dr. Craig Cook says trampoline injuries are often severe, open wounds similar to what you’d see in a high-speed car crash. And hospitals treat more than 100,000 trampoline injuries a year including everything from dislocated feet, to brain hemorrhages, to paralysis – and even death. Statistics show that 75-percent of injuries occur when at least two people are jumping on the same trampoline. Also if there’s a size difference, like adult and child, the smaller person is 14 times more likely to be significantly hurt than the larger one.
Operators of trampoline parks say severe injuries are rare and that their injury rate is actually lower than organized sports like football. And they say they’re doing everything they can to promote safety. They post rules and make jumpers watch a safety video. And some trampoline parks even have lifeguards on duty to make sure everybody follows the rules.
But the facts don’t lie: Accidents do happen, which is why trampoline parks make everyone sign an injury waiver before they start jumping. It’s also why governments are starting to take notice and proposing safety regulations.