Trampoline parks are increasingly popular, with scores of them springing up across the country in recent years, but the industry’s rise has been met with concerns from safety advocates.
Trampoline parks – venues featuring fixtures that allow you to jump and bounce – initially appeared during the 1960s, a fad that re-emerged in recent years as the economy improved and people pursued alternative sporting options. While only a handful of parks existed in 2009, at least 345 were in operation at the close of last year, according to the International Association of Trampoline Parks, or IATP.
Nearly 100,000 trampoline-related injuries occur each year: 83,665 in 2013 and 94,900 in 2012, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Additionally, 22 trampoline-related deaths occurred between 2000 and 2009, according to the CPSC.
Courtney Cleveland, who was injured at a trampoline park, fractured part of her spine and was told it could have been much worse.
“You’re very lucky,” the Virginia mom said the doctor told her. “If you fractured C-7 [vertebrae], you could be paralyzed in the foam pit.”
Most jump parks require visitors to sign liability waivers acknowledging the risks, including serious injury and death. But there are no federal regulations for trampoline parks, and only two states, Arizona and Michigan, have specific safety laws on the books.
Tom Paper, president of the trampoline safety advocacy group Think Before You Bounce, wants to see more regulation of the parks.
“There is a dangerous situation out there for consumers,” Paper said. “We’ve proven it with data, and yet nothing is happening.”
The indoor jump park industry argues that there is risk involved in every sport and physical activity.
For now, the industry is regulating itself, with many parks following voluntary safety guidelines, said Jeff Platt, chairman of the International Association of Trampoline Parks.
“The indoor trampoline park industry is really proactive in working together in a collective group to write a set of standards, as well as being proactive with legislators,” Platt said.
Think Before You Bounce suggests that people who visit trampoline parks follow these guidelines:
No more than one person on a trampoline at the same time
Keep small and large jumpers on different trampoline courts
Never allow children age 6 or younger on a trampoline
Many trampoline-related injuries are caused by collisions involving multiple people being on a trampoline at the same time, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Authorities also note somersaults and stunts as a risk, because people can be injured or paralyzed if they land improperly on their head or neck.