Last year I derided one of my least favorite toys for children: powered riding toys.
This year it’s trampolines.
They’ve popped up in our neighborhood like toadstools after a couple rainy days. Currently, four of them are planted ominously within site of our four energetic kids.
Trampolines are a lot of fun. Listening to the shrieks of joy from the children jumping on them, there is little doubt of that. It’s great exercise too. Yet despite safety measures recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the trampoline industry, these backyard bouncers are still very dangerous.
In 2009, 98,000 people were treated in the emergency room for injuries from trampolines according to a report from CBS News. Nearly all of them were children under age 15. A few weeks ago, New York Yankee pitcher (and former Husker) Joba Chamberlain broke his leg while jumping on a trampoline with his son.
Sure there are warnings on the trampolines that tell parents to only allow one jumper at a time, only allow those ages 5 and older to jump and not allow anyone to do flips, but I have yet to see any parent follow them completely. Safety nets have reduced the incidents of injury but they haven’t eliminated them.
The insurance industry considers trampolines an “attractive nuisance” which means they attract kids who will jump on them and possibly get hurt. The industry encourages parents to have a fence around their property if they have a trampoline to keep neighbor kids away when they’re not home. Some insurance companies have gone so far as to deny their clients home owner’s coverage if they purchase a trampoline.
It isn’t enough to scare parents away however. Over a million trampolines were sold last year; a substantial increase from just 10 years ago.
Well, it’s enough to scare this parent away. I rarely allow my children to jump on the neighbors’ trampolines. They sit on the ground next to them staring longingly at the giggling, jumping children having all the fun their dad won’t let them have.
I’m sure there’s a therapist bill awaiting me in the future for it.
Perhaps I can afford to pay it with all the medical bills I won’t have.
Al Watts is an at-home dad of 4 children living in west Omaha and the President of The National At-Home Dad Network. He writes regularly for The Good Men Project and Role/Reboot and is co-editing a book project titled “Dads Behaving Dadly: Chronicles of the Fatherhood Revolution.” Read him Wednesdays on momaha.com.