With backyard season just around the corner, you may be tempted to set up the trampoline and let the kids get their jump on.
But a new study offers further evidence of what health officials have long warned: trampolines can be dangerous for kids.
The national study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, found hospital emergency rooms across the country received more than 1 million visits from people injured in trampoline accidents between 2002 to 2011, boosting emergency room bills to just over $1 billion, according to the study.
And the numbers are thought to be an undercount because the data only reflects injuries treated at hospitals. The data also do not include costs for non-emergency-room care, from surgery to subsequent physical therapy or other treatments for more serious injuries.
Science Daily reports the study is the first to analyze trampoline fracture patterns in a large population drawn from a national database.
Nearly all of the fractures -- 95 percent -- occurred at the patient's home.
Lead study author Randall T. Loder says the data underscore the magnitude of trampoline injuries.
"I think trampolines should not be allowed in backyards. It's that simple," he says. "It's a significant public health problem."
This isn't the first time experts have warned about the dangers of trampolines.
Previous studies have listed trampolining second only to football as a sport causing permanent paralysis, ABC News reports.
Most trampoline injuries occur when there is more than one person jumping at a time. Younger, smaller bouncers have the greatest risk of getting hurt.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has officially discouraged the recreational use of trampolines since 1977, with their policy statement calling out backyard and home trampolines as inherently dangerous, even when properly set up with the appropriate safety equipment and with adult supervision.
Here are some steps the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends to prevent serious trampoline injuries, especially paralysis, fractures, sprains and bruises:
– Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time.
– Do not attempt or allow somersaults, because landing on the head or neck can cause paralysis.
– Do not use the trampoline without shock-absorbing pads that completely cover its springs, hooks and frame.
– Place the trampoline away from structures, trees and other play areas.
– No child under 6 years of age should use a full-size trampoline. Do not use a ladder with the trampoline, because it provides unsupervised access by small children.