Pros: Hey, it's fun!
Cons: It's a dangerous toy if rules aren't followed.
"Are you crazy?" said my friend Tena, who works as a nurse at a local hospital. "A trampoline is the most dangerous toy that a child can have! Do you know how many trampoline accidents are transported to the hospital? Lots!"
According to a study done between 1990 and 1995, the number of trampoline injuries doubled. The American Academy of Pediatrics called for a ban on backyard trampolines. The horror stories are a mile long: a kid who fell off and broke his neck, a kid who fell off and died of a traumatic brain injury, numerous sprains and broken bones, the list goes on.
You'd think with all that in mind, I would have passed on the idea of having a backyard trampoline. One day I picked up my son at a friend's house, only to find him along with nine (yes, nine!) other children on the next door neighbor's trampoline, minus a net. The parent was standing nearby, chatting on the phone. One boy fell off, thankfully he was unhurt, and the parent just helped him back on the overloaded trampoline.
My kids had been begging for a trampoline for a while and after that incident, I decided to research a bit. Sam's Club was selling a JumpKing 14' trampoline that I liked, and it had a net system that looked good to me.
So I got on the internet and did some checking around. Turns out that far more kids get killed, maimed and hurt in everyday sports than on the trampoline. You are more likely to get hurt riding a bike with a helmet on than doing straight jumping in a netted trampoline.
Common sense precautions and buying good equipment will go a long way in making the difference between a safe toy and a dangerous one. One of the most important rule is to allow only one jumper at a time. Keep in mind that flips are dangerous. There is one thing that I will absolutely not allow my children to do, and that is to jump on a trampoline that is not surrounded by a good net.
I visited a friend who had an earlier version of the 14' JumpKing with an outside net. I was quite apprehensive about this model, because even though the net was made of extremely thick plastic mesh, it was installed on the outside of the rim. This allowed jumpers to land on the padded springs. As it turned out, JumpKing improved on their net that year and made a version that was installed inside the springs. This allowed jumpers to stay inside the trampoline completely, without coming in contact with the expanding springs. I liked this safety feature so much that it was the convincing point in my decision to purchase the product.
I purchased the net for $196 and the trampoline for $260 (after rebate). Installation was fairly easy, but it took three of us to put it together. The frame is made of 14- gauge galvanized steel with a polymer coating. Once installed, the jump surface is 36" from the ground. The jump surface is made of black heavy-duty polypropylene-- the same stuff that water ski ropes are made of. It is fade resistant and made to hold up to weather and sun conditions. The mesh net is "sewn" on to the jump surface by white cord before being attached to the poles. The 96 springs on this model are shorter than the higher end model, which means that there is less bounce. More than fine by me; I don't need to see my kids nearly airborne with a springier model than what we already have.
The springs are covered by a rather thin green pad. This is one of my beefs with the product. The pad wears out quickly in the area where the children enter the trampoline. I plan to write to the company and suggest that they pad the area at the entrance. However, as a plus, this company provides excellent customer service. I called the company when the pad split apart and they promptly sent a replacement pad for free. They also sent two extra foam pole pads.
Eight poles are surrounded by 16 pole pads. They are made of the same material that is used to coat water pipes. They tend to crack open easily if any stress is placed on them. The nylon mesh net is attached to the poles by strong elastic straps, in between two pole pads and on top of the pole. However, I've discovered that it really is my kid's who are destroying these pads by improper use of the safety net. You see, my kids have discovered it is great fun to "accidently" fall into the net, causing it to slide down a bit on the poles. After repeated actions, the attachments dig into the foam, causing it to break. You can order replacement pads directly from the company.
So how do you get inside of this contraption with the surrounding net? You can purchase a two step ladder from JumpKing for $19 to make it easier to climb in. My kids are currently using their Fisher Price picnic table that they've outgrown. There is a 3 foot vertical opening where you push the net aside to enter. The net is then secured by three plastic spring clips attached to round rings to ensure that no one can accidently fall out through the opening while jumping. We have also used a padlock on the round rings to keep children from using the trampoline when we are gone.
Around the end of November, we winterize the trampoline. The poles come down and are separated, then we store them in the box that they came in. The net gets folded down toward the center of the jump surface and then we cover the entire frame and jump surface with a winter cover that we purchased from JumpKing for $49. After a snowfall, I send the kids out to brush the snow off from the top of the trampoline. If snow is left on all winter, the weight will stretch the jump surface out of shape.
According to JumpKing, the warranty on this model is as follows (obtained from www.jumpking.com):
JumpKing's products are warranted against manufacturer's defects for the length of time indicated. This is just a summary; for additional information, refer to the user's manual. These warranties apply to products sold in the United States.
36" and 38" Rebounder:
Steel Frame and Jumping Surface: 1 Year
Frame Pads and Springs: 90 Days
All Round and Rectangular JumpKing Trampolines:
Frame Pads and Springs: 6 Months
Frames: 10 Years
Bed Stitching: 2 Years
(Note: This applies only to the outer edge of stitching that attaches the
v-rings to the bed.)
Bed: Prorated against manufacturer's defects for 5 years as follows:
100% for the First Year.
50% for the Second Year.
35% for the Third Year.
20% for the Fourth Year.
10% for the Fifth Year.
(Note: This five-year prorated warranty applies only to the jumping surface. It does not cover the stitching on the outer edge. This warranty does not cover such things as burns, cuts, snags, and scrapes.)
JumpKing Weather Cover and Ladder: 30 Days
T2 Trampoline Tent:
Metal Hardware: 1 Year
Fiberglass Shock Cord Poles, Fabric, and Sewing: 90 Days.
In the two years that we have had this product, my kids have been happy users. One word of caution, the company recommends that it be used by persons of 150 pounds or less.
Remember Tena, the concerned nurse? She came over when we first got the trampoline and she actually let her kids on this "dangerous" contraption!