We recently reviewed the best pogo sticks for kids (and big kids!) and the most common question our readers asked was “Are pogo sticks safe?”
By “safe” we think most parents will agree that the question really means “Are pogo sticks safe in comparison to other outdoor toys and activities for kids“.
In this article we’ll answer that question by comparing the official government statistics on injuries from pogo sticks against injuries from other popular toys and activities.
Then we’ll provide some safety tips and advice on protective gear to help keep your kids even safer when they pogo.
Pogo Stick Safety
Pogo sticks are relatively safe, compared to many other outdoor play activities, because they don’t involve high speeds or falls from great heights. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data reveals that, each year, 326 times more people end up in the emergency room after riding a bike than after jumping on a pogo stick.
Let’s look at some comparisons of injuries for outdoor toys and play activities. The CPSC provide national stats on total injuries per toy. We have compiled the table below from their NEISS database of injuries over the last 5 years. It shows the average number of injuries per year that were treated in emergency departments, per outdoor toy/product:
|Most Common Part|
of Body Injured
So are pogo sticks dangerous? Even though pogo stick injuries are less frequent than most other outdoor toys, it is important to note that the most common injury is to the head, just like bikes and go-karts.
A pogo may look harmless enough but, if kids fall off one and land on their head, it will be from a greater height than from a bike or go-kart. Therefore it is even more essential that kids wear a safety helmet to avoid pogo stick accidents. See the sections below on recommended protective gear and safe surfaces for jumping on.
Kids should also use a new, modern pogo stick – don’t be tempted to drag your rusty ’90s classic out of the shed and give it to your kids to use – see the next section to find out why.
If you’re not yet sure what stick to buy, check out our recent article on the best pogo sticks for our top picks, reviews, a buying guide and FAQs.
Why Modern Pogo Sticks Are Safer
Pogos of old were always fun but the risk of injury was higher back then because:
- Foot rests were basic and small so it was easy for your foot to slip off
- They had a hard metal handle bar that could hit you in the chin if your feet slipped off the footrests or in the groin if you bounced at the wrong angle (been there, done that, ouch!)
- There was often no protection around the spring mechanism so clothing or shoe laces easily got snagged in it and destabilized you (or ruined your clothes)
- The parts were usually not replaceable. Worn rubber tips (especially) could make jumping dangerous as there was not good enough contact with the ground
However, safety standards have improved dramatically over the years. They are now much safer because modern toy designers have taken many steps to make a safe pogo stick that minimizes the risks:
- Foot rests are larger and have a non-slip rubber base so your foot won’t slip off
- Handle bars are wrapped in thick foam for protection
- The spring mechanism is usually fully enclosed so clothing or shoe laces can’t get caught in it
- Frames are often wrapped in foam for extra protection too
- Good quality sticks have easily replaceable rubber tips, foot rests and hand grips. This helps ensure that it remains safe and comfortable to use for many years
Is Protective Gear Required?
In a nutshell, yes! If kids don’t wear any safety equipment they risk far more than just a few cuts and grazes if they fall off.
Of most concern, they could bang their head on the ground – as the comparison table above showed, head injuries are the most common reason for a trip to the emergency department…
Safety gear is even more important if using a teen/adult or extreme pogo as they can bounce higher, increasing the pogo risk of a more serious injury.
Don’t let this put you off the idea of your kids jumping in the backyard though. As well as being fun, pogo is an awesome anaerobic workout and can burn up to 100 calories in just 10 minutes! If kids wear the following safety gear they are at a much reduced risk of any serious injury:
- A well-fitting helmet is essential!
- Closed toe shoes with rubber soles and laces (must be properly tied). Never try to jump while barefoot or in open toed shoes or sandals
- Elbow pads
- Knee pads
- Wrist guards
Pogo Stick Safety Tips
There are several steps you can take to make using a pogo stick even safer:
- Purchase a model that is appropriate to the user’s age, weight and height
- Wear suitable protective clothing (see the guide above)
- Only jump on a suitable surface (see the guide below)
- Keep your pogo in good condition – never use it if the rubber tip is missing or damaged
- Do not attempt any tricks until you are experienced. Ensure you are supervised by someone who can provide help in an emergency should it go badly wrong…
- Be aware of potential hazards. Watch out for vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, skate boarders and pets
- Do not use it in the middle of the street
- If using one in the dark, wrap LED lights around the frame to make yourself more visible
What Surfaces Are Safe to Pogo On?
The safest surfaces to avoid injury on a jumping stick are hard and level surfaces outdoors where there is plenty of room.
Good surfaces therefore include concrete, cement, asphalt and sidewalk.
The following surfaces are not safe to jump on:
- Grass – the stick may get stuck in the ground and throw you off (and also leaves unsightly marks on the grass)
- Dirt or sand – the tip may sink into it, or skid on the ground, making it unsafe
- Gravel (unless very experienced) – there is a greater risk of the stick slipping or wobbling and a more serious injury if you fall
- Uneven ground – the same risks as gravel
- Stairs or steps – unless you’re an expert you could, and probably will, fall if you try to pogo up or down these…
- Wooden floors – the floor may become damaged, or even give way, due to the very high pressure exerted by bouncing all of your weight on the tiny footprint of the rubber tip