Everyone will remember with fondness those rainy PE days at school, when the usual activities of rugby, netball and hockey were forsworn, the class headed for the gym, and if your school was lucky enough to have them, the trampolines were rolled out. It seems that the nostalgia for that free soaring feeling of bouncing high enough to almost touch the ceiling is well and truly still alive.
The last three years has seen an unprecedented explosion in the growth of trampoline parks, which are seen not only as an alternative for children’s birthday parties, but in general, a fun, high energy, way to keep fit. In 2014 there were six trampoline parks in England and Wales. By the end of 2017, it is projected that there will be in excess of 150 such parks.
Trampoline parks are usually indoors, consisting of several trampolines placed alongside each other, sometimes with the addition of slides, and platforms to jump off. However, this type of boisterous, high cardio activity, which is extremely popular with both children and big kids alike, comes with its own risks. The statistics in relation to injuries received whilst engaged in trampolining are worrying in the extreme.
In the year up to April 2016, 30 parks had to make call outs to emergency services to deal with injuries sustained by their patrons. The number of ambulance call outs to those 30 parks was a staggering 315. Some of those parks had such a poor safety record, that they have since closed down, however this doesn’t seem to have fazed the industry at all, which is seen as having strong commercial legs, borne on the popularity of the trend in the USA.
Whilst operators insist that the number of injuries sustained, in comparison to the number of users of their facilities is fairly low, the type of injury sustained can often be serious. The type of injuries can range from cuts, bruises and soft tissue injuries, to suspected fracture of limbs, head injuries and in several recently reported cases, fractured vertebrae.
The British Standards Industry have published standards for trampoline parks this year in an effort to reduce injuries, and the International Association of Trampoline Parks UK indicate that many parks do comply with the required standards. The standards include ensuring that there are sufficient stewards on duty, guidance for the construction of new parks, and maintenance requirements. From August 2017 all existing parks will be inspected to ensure that they are compliant and new parks will be expected to meet the minimum safety guidelines before being allowed to open for business.
The International Association of Trampoline Parks UK are keen to sure that all venues are safety compliant to ensure that their patrons have an enjoyable, but safe experience. Whilst it is impossible to make this type of activity risk-free, the IATP ask that potential customers look for evidence of safety briefings from staff, a well maintained and well lit park, and sufficient staff members on duty when selecting a park to visit.