Bounce houses and trampoline parks are becoming increasingly popular as birthday party venues for kids. Here are safety tips to keep in mind when taking your kids to a bounce place.
How do I know if a bounce place is safe for my child?
Of primary concern are the number of monitors, or supervisors, and their levels of attentiveness. Are there enough stationed at each bounce house or trampoline court? Are they paying attention to the activity on the courts and not texting or talking on their cell phone? Are there management level personnel present? There should be.
Are there restrictions on the number of bouncers or jumpers allowed at one time on one device? We allow a maximum of two children on a given trampoline at one time. Whether it is one or two children allowed would depend on the size and age of the children and the size of the specific trampoline.
You should also ask: Does the equipment look clean and maintained? Are safety instructions posted and clearly visible? Are there age controls in place so that smaller children are not jumping on the same courts as teenagers? We have different age requirements for the different trampoline courts here at Bounce! We have a trampoline area with a foam pit devoted strictly to ages 6 and younger called Bounce! Jr. We have two dodge ball courts with differing age requirements, one for ages 7-11, and the other for ages 12 and older. Our monitors are trained to pay strict attention to these age requirements.
How should parents prepare their children for a visit to a trampoline park?
Parents should have the children either jump barefoot or with non-slip socks. We do allow children to jump with their own socks but they can be a bit slippery. We sell socks at Bounce! with rubber grip bottoms that can be used over and over for both children and adults. Children should be dressed properly; comfortable gym wear is best. Children should not be over dressed because trampolining is a very physical activity, an incredibly good exercise in fact.
In addition, eating within one hour of jumping is strongly not advised. Children with physical disabilities should not jump on trampolines unless the parent has had experience with their child on trampolines and feels completely safe with them jumping. We do not allow anyone wearing a cast or with an obvious injury to get on the trampolines.
What are the national safety guidelines for trampoline parks?
As of this moment, the national safety standards are being written and established by the American Society for Testing and Materials International, the organization that has set the standards and guidelines for a huge number of industries including the amusement park, water park, and zip lining business models. I am a participating member of the ASTM International and have been involved in establishing the standards for the indoor trampoline park industry.
I expect those guidelines will be completed and in place by the middle of next year. Until that happens, we here at Bounce! have taken a proactive stance and have already implemented the regulations that will appear in the final draft. These guidelines include every detail of operation and construction, including signage, netting, padding, training and the number of monitors per customer, etc.
What do places like Bounce! to do ensure the safey of children and adults?
We have already implemented the standards that are currently being developed for our industry by the ASTM prior to their actual publication. In fact at Bounce!, we exceed some of those guidelines when it comes to safety. We have a higher monitor-to-jumper ratio than the guidelines call for and have in place stricter guidelines regarding the numbers of jumpers allowed per trampoline.
We have strict requirements concerning the training and the number of court monitors we have here at Bounce! We have a safety video that plays continuously in our lobby and it is the first thing guests see upon entering. Every court is organized and only a certain amount of jumpers are allowed on a court at a given time – only a specific number of guest passes are sold for any given hour and then no additional jumpers are allowed entry.
Signs are prominently displayed advising customers on proper trampoline behavior, rules, and guidelines. Five feet of foam padding is extended from the edge of each court to ensure safety when entering and exiting the trampolines. We perform structural inspections three times a week on all of our equipment.
Michael Gross is a managaing partner of Bounce! Trampoline Sports in Valley Cottage, NY.