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Trampolines jumping off shelves amid spring isolation, but are they safe?
A family sets up a trampoline with a message of hope on a wall in their yard, during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Edmonton on Thursday, April 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
TORONTO -- As many Canadian families close out their tenth week in isolation, backyard trampolines appear to be flying off digital shelves, but pediatricians will tell you: send it back.
A search of online inventory for retailers including Canadian Tire, Walmart and Home Depot show only handfuls of available product throughout the country, if the most popular trampolines aren’t already sold out or available only for pre-order.
"Trampoline sales are jumping and significantly ahead of previous years... as customers look to make their homes more fun and comfortable for the whole family," a Walmart Canada spokesperson confirmed to CTVNew.ca in an email. Ontario has seen the biggest spike in sales, they added.
But ask any pediatrician, says Toronto Dr. Dina Kulik, and they’ll tell you it’s in every parent’s best interest that the backyard bouncing apparatuses stay out of stock.
Trampolines can cause a variety of injuries from minor cuts and bruises to broken bones and paralysis, she says. Mortality is uncommon, she added, but Kulik has personally seen “severe, devastating” neck trauma from trampoline use.
“They simply aren’t safe,” she told CTVNews.ca by phone on Friday. “Even though I am a big proponent of kids getting active every day, this is not the form that I would be choosing.”
On Friday, Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal issues a news release warning families about the dangers of trampolines. The pediatric hospital said it has seen a spike in various injuries, including fractures and sprains, from jumping on trampolines. Orthopedic surgeon Peter Glavas told the Canadian Press that "there are no good, effective, 100 per cent guaranteed means of preventing trampoline injuries."
Kulik agrees. There’s no such thing as a safe trampoline, told CTVNews.ca. Even though they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from child-size versions with attached handrails, to large 12-foot wide trampolines with “safety enclosure” cages and nets.
“A lot of people think that if they have cages, or they’re without springs, or if parents are watching, that they are safe. By and large kids will be fine. But they certainly have the potential to cause very significant injuries,” she said. “Every summer, many of us (emergency room) doctors take care of children that have injuries from trampolines.”
Parents can minimize harm by allowing only one user at a time, and prohibiting flips and somersaults. Still, it might not be enough. Kulik said that the majority of injuries she has seen are among children who were on the device by themselves.
An added layer of complication arises with trampoline use during the COVID-19 pandemic: the apparent hesitancy some Canadians may have to visit a hospital emergency room.
“We’re seeing a lot across Canada—and the United States is reporting the same—of children that are having illness or injuries that are not being seen in an expedient way for fear that parents have of their kid becoming exposed to COVID,” said Kulik. “As a result, some kids are becoming more unwell or their injuries are progressing and not being stabilized sooner.”
If a trampoline threatened to put anyone in that situation, perhaps it’s best to find an alternative activity, suggests Kulik. “I would much rather (kids) run around or create their own games, go biking or swimming, or anything else,” she said. “Most people won’t know someone that has had an injury, but it is very common.”