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To help minimize risks from trampolines, medical officials on Okinawa say only one child should be allowed to jump at a time, and only under adult supervision.
To help minimize risks from trampolines, medical officials on Okinawa say only one child should be allowed to jump at a time, and only under adult supervision. (Fred Zimmerman / S&S)

CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — Supervision is key: That’s the word hospital officials are trying to get out to parents about trampoline safety as temperatures rise and children take to the outdoors more.

With trampolines scattered throughout base housing areas on island, emergency room personnel at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa say the accident danger always is there. But, they add, proper adult supervision can shrink the risks.

“If I had a kid, I wouldn’t have one,” Cmdr. Carlos Guevarra, a USNH Okinawa ER physician, said of trampolines. “But if you’re going to have one, the children need to be supervised. Anything kids do will be a risk, but all need proper supervision.”

When children injured on a trampoline come into the ER, often parents can’t say what happened because they didn’t see it, said Lt. j.g. Abigail Burrows, an ER nurse.

The hospital at Camp Lester never has seen a death due to trampoline injuries, Guevarra said, but some have occurred in the States. Most injuries seen locally are arm fractures; also common are elbow injuries and dislocated shoulders. But Guevarra also has seen femur fractures, he said, which can result in major blood loss.

Burrows said children falling off trampolines also can sustain head injuries.

Guevarra and Burrows also recommended having only one child jump on a trampoline at a time, even with adult supervision. Burrows said when a larger child jumps with a smaller kid, the smaller child is in danger of being “jettisoned off” the trampoline.

According to an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2005 position statement, 211,646 Americans under age 19 were injured on trampolines in 2003. Children ages 5 to 10 sustained 102,017 injuries.

Another key to keeping kids safe on trampolines is proper safety equipment, the ER personnel said. Burrows said padding over the trampoline springs can keep children from falling between them and netting can help keep jumpers from flying off.

“I’ve never seen an injury when they have the protective equipment,” Guevarra said. “Almost 100 percent of the injuries were because of lack of supervision.”

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