“The parents of a 2-year-old boy from Staten Island, N.Y., learned the hard way just how dangerous exercise equipment can be. In September, the boy’s skin was pulled off his hand when he touched the belt on a treadmill.
Another 2-year-old boy, from Johnson City, Tenn., severed three fingers when his hand became caught in the front wheel of an exercise bike in May 1995.
And the hair of a 3-year-old girl from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was pulled from her scalp when it was caught in part of a manual exercise bike in December 1996.” (1)
That’s the opener of a 1998 Los Angeles Times article entitled, “Fitness Equipment That Helps Grown-Ups Can Hurt Kids,” by Tomoko Hosaka. Although that article was published 23 years ago, tragic accidents like the ones mentioned above are still taking place all over the country. Just months ago, a small child was killed in a tragic accident involving a Peloton treadmill. (2)
According to one study, about 12,000 children each year are taken to the emergency room because of a fitness-equipment-related accident. (3) And now more than ever because of the continuing pandemic and gym closures, people are buying fitness equipment to use in their homes.
If you have little children in your home, their safety needs to be your top priority – and fitness equipment is a dangerous hazard if you don’t take the steps to protect and teach your children about potential dangers.
The first thing parents should do after buying a new piece of fitness equipment is talk to their kids and explain to them what it is used for, why they have it, and also, how dangerous it can be.
Parents can explain that treadmills and exercise bicycles are designed for adults, not for children. The machines should always be used properly and only be used by adults. The equipment has heavy parts and can be dangerous for children.
The best option for homes with small children is keeping all fitness equipment in a separate locked room, so that small children can’t enter unsupervised. However, this might not be possible for all fitness equipment owners. The next best option is to always leave fitness equipment turned off, so that if children do try to play with the equipment, they won’t be able to turn it on (almost all fitness equipment accidents happen when the machines are on and running).
Hanging things like bags, cords, and exercise bands on your fitness equipment are seemingly harmless, but can pose a danger to small children. That’s because items like those can get tangled up as children run by and get caught around a child’s neck.
In fact, “between 1999 and 2014, in the UK alone, 29 children died from getting caught in blind cords.” (4) Most people don’t think something as simple as a bag left on a treadmill could become a dangerous hazard for children, but it’s true. And it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
So next time you finish your workout, make sure to leave your towels, bags, and other items away from your treadmill or exercise bike. It’s something very simple, but it can make a big difference in keeping your children safe.
Little kids are naturally curious and naturally want to copy whatever they see you doing. So, if your kids watch you using the fun exercise machines and picking up those cool metal things all the time, they are going to want to do the same.
Obviously, heavy weights like dumbbells and kettle bells are not for children and can be hazards for them, especially if dropped on little feet or hands. To prevent this from happening, parents can cover the weights so that they are out of sight of children and hard to reach. If they are covered up, children are less likely to notice them and pick them up.
Another option is keeping the weights in a closed closet in your workout room where children can’t see them. That way, they are still easily accessible to you but out of sight for your children.
The safety key or clip on your treadmill is an emergency stop feature that will immediately stop the belt if you fall or slip or lose your balance. It might seem dumb to attach the safety key to your shirt before every workout, but it is designed to keep you safe and can prevent injuries.
It’s also a good way to keep your children safe as well. Most treadmills don’t work without the safety key. So, after you are done using your workout, instead of putting the safety key back on the treadmill so it can start again, you can put it in a safe place, out of reach of your children. That way, if they step onto the treadmill and press some buttons, it won’t automatically start.
Having fitness equipment in your home and working out at home is not just a great way to stay healthy – it also teaches your children the importance of fitness and goal-setting. Children that see their parents working out and eating healthy are more likely to develop healthy habits in their own lives.
That being said, it’s so important to keep you kids safe around your fitness equipment. Children are naturally curious and want to explore everything. Always talk openly with your children about the potential dangers of exercise equipment and the importance of staying safe.
And if you have children in your home, remember that while it is important to find the machine that’s perfect for you and your fitness goals, your children’s safety is your top priority, so think about the safest place in your home for your new fitness equipment, and how you’ll keep your children safe.
1 Fitness Equipment That Helps Grown-Ups Can Hurt Kids
2 Peloton: Child killed in ‘tragic’ treadmill accident
3 Home exercise equipment-related injuries among children in the United States