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Rod Brouhard, EMT  P

Can You Be Fun AND Safe?

By February 8, 2009

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Consumer Reports Magazine loves to take the fun out of life.

In its March issue, CR tells us what kinds of risky behavior Americans are doing. Some of the behaviors covered by the magazine are no-brainers (at least in the mind of this safety writer) and we'd be smart to avoid them starting right now:

  • Not wearing a seatbelt (I didn't grow up wearing them, but my wife is in charge of hitting me whenever I forget)
  • Mixing beer and power tools
  • Standing on the top of a ladder

On the other hand, some of this stuff is simply a bit of super cautious nagging as far as I'm concerned. I mean, yeah these are dangerous in a we-probably-should-be-careful sort of way, but these aren't the kinds of things that are going to thin out the population any time soon.

Do you ever eat raw cookie dough? Anyone who's seen the extra pounds on my gut can tell you I do. I'm also likely to eat my burger with a bit of pink in the middle. If we wanted to live a completely risk-free life, red meat -- well or rare -- would be on the no-no list, as it is according to CR.

My kids like playing on a trampoline. Ours finally went kaput, but when we had one it had a protective net around it so the kids wouldn't bounce right off and land on the dog head first. I'm not saying trampolines are totally safe, but let's put things into perspective:

  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated there were about 3 million trampolines in 1999 (the last year detailed stats were available from the CPSC). Most of those were in private backyards.
  • That same year, the CPSC estimated 100,000 injuries from trampolines went to the ER. About 4% -- roughly 4,000 -- were admitted to the hospital.
  • Using those figures, the rate of hospital admissions due to trampolines was .13% -- point one three percent. That's just 4 hospital admissions from every 3,000 trampolines.
  • Since 1990, the CPSC reports 6 kids under the age of 15 have been killed on trampolines.

Trampolines aren't even in the same category as drowning deaths. The CPSC says 250 kids under age 5 are killed in pools each year. That's per year and only includes kids less than 5 years old. Consumer Reports doesn't say anything about filling your backyard pool in and making it a planter box, but the magazine suggests we should never let our kids jump on a trampoline.

Maybe instead of completely removing a potential form of exercise from the kids, we could just be careful. To use a trampoline more safely, the CPSC provides these tips:

  • Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time.
  • Don't attempt (or allow the kids to attempt) flips or somersaults.
  • Don't 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.
  • Don't use a ladder with the trampoline because it provides a way for the little ones to climb on when you're not looking.
  • Always supervise children who use a trampoline.
  • Trampoline enclosures can help prevent injuries from falls off trampolines.

I'm a big believer in safety. I think we should live life as safely as possible, but first and foremost, I think we should live life.

Consumer Reports is a great magazine -- I have a subscription myself -- but keep lists like these in perspective. It's up to you if you don't want the kids to eat raw cookie dough, but if you want to be safe where it really matters then unplug the beater and take out the blades before you let Junior lick it clean.

Consumer Reports. "Oops! Americans report risky behavior" (subscription required)

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