Trampoline parks are one of the newer additions to the world of indoor activity centers. However, their safety is increasingly being called into question as to the number of serious injuries mounts.

In 2017, trampoline park injuries accounted for almost 18,000 visits to emergency rooms. According to CBS News, at least six people have been fatally injured at trampoline parks in the past seven years.

A biomechanical engineer who has spent approximately six years studying these facilities says that a key problem is the way the trampolines are fastened together. He explains, “We found there is energy transferred between trampoline beds. It’s really one big trampoline.”

When adults and kids are bouncing at the same time, the force from the adult’s bounce can total hundreds of pounds. That’s easily enough to break a child’s bones — particularly if a parent and child are bouncing together on a trampoline. The engineer says, “It’s like getting hit with a hammer.” He explains that “everybody in that system is influencing everybody else’s jump.”

Some of the people who own trampoline parks push back on warnings about their dangers. One acknowledges some level of risk, but he also touts the benefits, such as helping kids who might not be good at team sports stay in shape.

He says, “Not all trampoline parks are created equal” when it comes to safety precautions that reduce the transfer of energy. He says that his park also has additional trampolines under the ones that people are jumping on in case the top one breaks. Currently, however, there are no federal regulations governing trampoline park safety.

The true number of injuries may be higher than the data shows. That’s in part because trampoline parks often require injured parties to settle claims through arbitration rather than by going to court.

Before you take your family to a local trampoline park, it’s wise to do a little homework to find out what kind of safety precautions are in place. It’s also essential to read the fine print on any liability waiver you’re required to sign. If your child suffers an injury at the park that you believe was preventable, it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance before you reach any agreement with the park owners.