We put four trampolines through expert testing to find the models that are safe, durable and easy to use.
Do trampolines have more downs than ups?
In 2016, 11,580 injuries involving trampolines were reported to the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC). That’s nearly 4000 more since 2013. Many of the injuries were probably due to poor safety practices (for example, letting several kids bounce at the same time). Another factor could be there’s no longer a New Zealand safety standard for trampolines.
The standard was withdrawn in 2015 as it hadn’t been updated since 1997 – but that’s a poor excuse for not having a safety standard covering trampolines for sale in New Zealand, because good design goes a long way in preventing injuries.
Most trampolines get their bounce from coiled steel springs that hang the mat from the frame. If the springs aren’t covered by durable fixed padding, they can pose a safety risk – a head or limb can get caught between them as they stretch.
An alternative is a soft-edge trampoline. Some soft-edge designs replace the coiled steel springs with elastic webbing, so there's less chance of someone getting hurt. However, the jumper might still land on the elastic springs, so you’ll still need good padding.
Other soft-edge designs use steel or fibreglass leaf springs mounted below the mat. There's no way a jumper can get caught in these springs. However, they can still have a hard surface around the edge of the mat.
First, do you have the right space for a trampoline? It should be placed on a level surface that’s free of hazards, such as furniture. The area around the trampoline should be covered in soft, impact-absorbing material (lawn, pine bark, wood chips or sand are good). Injuries commonly occur when mounting and dismounting.
The metal frame and springs should be padded to avoid injury if a child falls and hits them. The safety pads should be a contrasting colour to the mat – this helps define the edge of the mat more clearly. An alternative design that needs little or no padding is a soft-edge springless system, which has no steel frame or springs.
A netted enclosure helps prevent falls from the trampoline and we strongly recommend you only use trampolines that have one. The net shouldn’t be suspended from rigid, unpadded poles, as this introduces another hard object that could pose a risk. Ideally, the safety netting should be fitted on the inside of the padding as that reduces the chance of hitting the trampoline edges in the case of a fall.
A ladder or steps to help kids climb on to the trampoline isn’t necessarily a good idea. 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. So we recommend limiting access to a 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.
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.
Assembling a trampoline isn’t always an easy job – instructions can be complicated. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer or see its website for more detailed instructions and guidance.