Wisconsin lawmaker pushes to regulate trampoline parks after his daughter gets injured

No federal or state regulations currently in place
Wisconsin lawmaker pushes to regulate trampoline parks after his daughter gets injured

A Wisconsin state senator is looking for ways to regulate the trampoline park industry as the parks become more popular around the country.

Sen. Chris Larson said after his 4-year-old daughter Stella — who he describes as a “bottomless well of energy” — fractured her tibia at a trampoline park in February, he began asking questions.

“We realized, ‘Wait a second. This is ridiculous that this happened in the first place. And what kind of regulations are there in place?'” said Larson, a Democrat from Milwaukee.

He discovered that neither the federal goverment nor Wisconsin government regulates trampoline parks, something he called “shocking.”

Wisconsin lawmaker pushes to regulate trampoline parks after his daughter gets injured

There are at least eight states that have taken steps to regulate trampoline parks, according to CBS News. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency room visits caused by trampoline park injuries jumped from 2,500 in 2013 to almost 18,000 in 2017.

Bethany Evans, executive vice president of the International Association of Trampoline Parks, sent a statement to News 3 Now saying, “Currently, the industry is not regulated in Wisconsin, but the IATP would welcome the opportunity to work with lawmakers to develop responsible industry regulation.”

Larson’s dive into the foam pit started in February as his family searched for ways to burn off excess energy amid the Wisconsin winter. He said his son, 6-year-old Atticus, had a blast at a trampoline park, so they went again as a family, bringing Stella.

“The first time was fine. The next time we came back, within 15 minutes, my daughter was screaming,” Larson said.

Wisconsin lawmaker pushes to regulate trampoline parks after his daughter gets injured

His frustrations centered around not just the lack of regulations, he said, but also the lack of information available. Larson said he had signed waivers for his kids but when he later asked to get copies of the disclaimers, it “took quite a bit of effort.”

Currently, Wisconsin state law regulates amusement or thrill rides, which is defined as any “device that carries frequenters in an unusual, entertaining or thrilling mode of motion or any vehicle providing entertainment or transportation to, from or within an amusement area.”

Trampoline parks are not considered to be rides, but Larson said he could propose adding it to the definition so that they are regulated the same way. He is pushing for things like mandated reporting of injuries on site, special inspections and special operating licenses to open up trampoline parks.

He is scheduled to meet with Brad Pfaff, secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, to figure out if the law can be changed with the rule-making authority. If not, Larson said, he plans to draft a bill this session.

The International Association of Trampoline Parks highlighted the jobs the trampoline park industry brings and said it continues to develop programs to make sure its member parks promote safety. The organization announced earlier this month that it will launch several initiatives, including a third-party inspection program, a “Let’s Get Jumping” consumer awareness campaign and a court monitor certification.

News 3 Now also reached out to trampoline parks in the Madison area.

Sky Zone sent a statement to News 3 Now saying:

“At Sky Zone, the safety of our guests is our top priority and we are committed to ongoing safety evaluations. As with any physical activity or sport, there are inherent risks. We invest in best-in-class equipment and take numerous measures to reduce these risks, such as daily equipment and area spot checks, and educate our guests about safety by posting important safety rules and guidelines throughout our parks. Additionally, we station court monitors near all trampoline attractions to help enforce those rules and monitor guest activity. When there is an injury, all incidents are analyzed internally and we consult with third-party industry experts to continuously learn from them and create the safest environment possible for guests.”

Central Parks Management, which operates Madhouse Trampoline Park & Entertainment Experience, was unable to immediately provide a statement.

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