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How to buy a safe trampoline

Choosing and using the best backyard bouncer for your family.

child_jumping_on_trampoline_in_backyard
Last updated: 18 January 2018

Trampolines can be a great way for kids to have fun, exercise and develop coordination, but unfortunately they're also a common source of injuries. Our past reviews found that most of the tested trampolines failed to meet the Australian safety standard. Here's what you can do to find a good one and use it safely.

How to choose a safe trampoline

Safety padding

  • The metal frame and springs should be padded to avoid injuries should a child fall and hit them. 
  • The safety pads should be a contrasting colour to the mat of the trampoline – this helps define the edge of the mat more clearly. 
  • The trampoline should meet the current Australian trampoline standard AS 4989:2015, but there's no easy way for the average buyer to tell, other than looking for a statement of compliance to the standard.
  • Springless models such as those from Springfree and Vuly have a soft-edge design, where the bounce comes from mechanisms such as fibreglass rods or steel leaf springs beneath the level of the jumping mat, so they don't need a padded edge like the traditional spring models.
  • Unfortunately we found in our 2017 trampoline review that although most of the models came with safety padding, not all passed the safety tests.

Enclosure

  • A netted enclosure helps prevent falls from the trampoline and we strongly recommend you only use trampolines that have one. 
  • It shouldn't be suspended from unpadded rigid or stiff poles, as this introduces another hard object that could pose a risk to a child. 

Ladder

  • A ladder can be used to help kids get on and off a trampoline safely, but it should be removed when the trampoline is not in use.
  • If a child is unable to get up there alone, they may not be at the right developmental stage to use a trampoline at all. 

Instructions

  • Instructions need to be clear, comprehensive and complete with good text and pictures. They should specify how to assemble the trampoline, maintain it and use it safely.

Assembly and maintenance

First, do you actually have the right space for a trampoline? It should be placed on a level surface that's free of hazards such as furniture, and the area around the trampoline should be covered in soft, impact-absorbing material. Lawn, pine bark, wood chips or sand are good. Not paving or concrete – there's too much risk of injury from falling onto a hard surface. You need two metres' clearance on all sides and five metres overhead.

Using a trampoline safely

  • Supervise children while they're using the trampoline. Young kids especially (under six) should only use trampolines under close supervision.
  • A safety enclosure can help prevent falls but it's no substitute for good safety padding and a sturdy frame, or for sensible use of the trampoline.
  • Even with an enclosure in place, kids still need to play safely on the trampoline and under adult supervision.
  • Don't let kids bounce against the netting on purpose.
  • One child at a time on the trampoline. Accidents are more likely to occur when more than one child is playing on the trampoline.
  • Large trampolines are not recommended for kids under six.
  • Clear safety rules such as "one at a time", "bare feet only", and "do not use when wet" are good boundaries to set early on.
  • Jump only in the middle of the trampoline and don't jump off the trampoline when finished.
  • To control bounce, teach your child to focus their eyes on the trampoline.
  • If you have an older trampoline, consider getting it retrofitted with a frame padding system that's compliant with the current standard. Or replace the old trampoline completely.

Are trampolines really that dangerous?

Trampolines are the second biggest cause of hospital-treated injuries on play equipment, just behind monkey bars. Children aged five to nine are the most frequently injured, though there's also an alarming number of injuries to children aged under five.

The Australian standard

The current Australian standard for trampolines, AS 4989:2015, is only voluntary. So while we expect manufacturers to strive to meet this standard, they're not required by law to do so. Some manufacturers we've spoken to, including Springfree, Vuly and Action Sports, are firm supporters of the standard and some even take part in the standards committee.

The standard specifies performance tests for the padding or soft-edge system, to ensure it will properly protect a child's head in the event of a fall or impact, as well as requirements for instructions, labels and safety warnings. It also requires the trampoline to have a safety enclosure (net) and includes tests to check that the enclosure is free from strangulation hazards, limb entrapments and other hazards, and that the frame and enclosure are structurally safe and sound. 

We strongly believe that the Australian standard for trampolines should be made mandatory. This will help weed out the more dangerous and flimsy trampolines from the market.

RELATED: No child should be put in hospital because of dangerous products, whether it's trampolines, button batteries or anything else. Sign our petition calling for the government to make it illegal to sell unsafe products. 

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