Treadmill Danger for Kids: Causes and How to Avoid

Now that most of us are working from home, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, it's become a norm to set up treadmills at home. 

At the same time, gym memberships are pretty expensive, so finding some space for a treadmill makes sense. But there's one problem. 

Having exercise equipment like the treadmill at home poses lots of risk of injury to kids. Unfortunately, there have been a handful of incidents involving treadmill-related injuries. 

For example, there's the famous case of the former world boxing champion Mike Tyson's daughter, who died after getting tangled up on a treadmill. She was only 4 years old. 

And that's not the only case. 

In 2021 alone, the U.S. emergency departments treated more than 15,000 treadmill-related injuries. This is reiterated by pediatric studies, which report that treadmills cause 3.5% of all burn cases among children

These treadmill burns can be so severe that the kid victim may need plastic surgery or skin grafts. Since kids aren't aware of how dangerous treadmills can be, it's your responsibility as a parent or guardian to ensure they are safe.

What Can You Do to Keep Children Safe from Treadmill Injuries?

There are a dozen things you can do to avoid treadmill-related injuries. Some are common sense and just reminders, while others are recommendations from experts. Let's have a look at some of the ways to prevent treadmill accidents among children.

Always Use the Safety Key

Your treadmill comes with a safety key that lets you keep the treadmill off when you're not using it. So make it a habit to always check and recheck if you've used the safety key every time you step off the treadmill.

Also, ensure the treadmill belt goes to a complete stop before getting off the treadmill. This is because your kid may see stepping off the treadmill, and before you use the safety key, they may decide to quickly jump onto the treadmill, which may cause an accident.

Get a Dedicated Room for the Treadmill

If you can afford it, get a room and dedicate it as your "gym room" where you store all your exercise equipment. Make it known to the kids that the room is out of bounds. And have the room's key stored away so the kids can't access it.

But what if you can't afford an extra room?

No problem. Because that simply means being more careful with the treadmill. For example, it is keener than the treadmill.

Read the Manual, Again

Okay, I know most folks don't ever read the manual unless when setting it up. Well, it's best to re-read the manual once more for safety instructions. 

According to consumer reports, one of the leading causes of treadmill injuries is not paying attention to safety instructions.

So, perhaps you went through the manual when setting the treadmill up. Now you have to look for any safety measures that may help you keep your kids safe.

Get One of Those Treadmills Designed for Kids

Kids are always more curious and tend to copy what adults do. So even if you manage to keep the kids away from the treadmill, they'll be eager to jump onto it and experience what you're also experiencing.

It's such curiosity that drives the kids to the treadmill. So you should stay ahead and get them one of those kid-friendly treadmills.

These have been designed for children, meaning treadmills are manual, non-motorized, and adhere to safety standards. A great example is the Fitness XTF which is perfect for kids aged 3 to 7.

Allows Enough Space Behind the Treadmill

This is a great way to make the treadmill safe for use. It keeps you safe from falling off and offers enough space in case something goes wrong while exercising on the machine.

Perhaps your kid may happen to be nearby when you're working out. But, of course, you wouldn't want anything to happen to them simply because there wasn't enough space when something went wrong.

Recommended by consumer reports suggests placing a rubber mat or a thick, durable carpet under or around the treadmill. This helps cushion any hard falls.

Teach the Older Kids How to Use the Treadmill

Once a kid reaches the right age to use a treadmill, it's advisable to give them a thorough walkthrough of how the heavy machinery works. This minimizes the risk of injury to your kids.

You can review the manual and reintegrate the safety instructions into the older kids. And it's great if younger kids are around because the older kid will keep them off the treadmill.

So what's the right age for a kid to use a treadmill?

Well, even though the right age is 12, it actually depends on how mature your kid is. Are they old and tall enough to use the treadmill? Are they care enough?

If you feel your kid isn't ready yet, putting the kids away from the treadmill is okay. But it doesn't hurt having them accustomed to how the treadmill works and how to operate it safely.

You should specifically teach them about the belt mechanism, so they keep off the treadmill's danger zones.

Mind the Gap!

When buying a treadmill, it's best to pick one with no gaps where kids can stick their hands. Again, we're going back to kids' curiosity. If a kid sees the gap, they may be tempted to see what's inside and thus put their hands in.

Therefore, it's best to use a treadmill that conceals the gaps between the track and the working machinery parts. But what if your treadmill already has exposed parts?

You can either get a new treadmill or find ways to cover those exposed parts. So be creative and find something around the house that will conceal those parts.

Keep the Treadmill Cords Tidy

Remember that Mike Tyson's kid got strangled by the treadmill cords? And even though they un-strangled her and sought medical attention immediately, she didn't survive the accident. You don't want this on your child, God forbid!

It's important to affix the cords to the treadmill. You can do this by using cord protectors, and when you're not using the exercise equipment, bundle the cords together and make sure the kids can't get to them.

Also, when using the treadmill, ensure the cords aren't visible. Any exposed lines present an entrapment hazard.


Here are some commonly asked questions on treadmill safety and children. 

1. Can treadmill accidents cause brain injury?

Yes. That's possible. If your kid plays on a treadmill and it flies off because it was too fast, then the kid might hit hard on the floor and cause brain injury. So yeah, it's possible. 

2. How old should a child use the treadmill?

It's advisable if the child reaches 12 years and over. But it's more about the kid's maturity at handling dangerous machinery. Is the child witty? Do they play too much?

Nonetheless, teaching them how to use the treadmill as early as possible is still advisable. This way, they get to avoid the possibility of dozens of injuries.

3. How do kids' treadmills work?

Unlike treadmills for adults, these are non-motorized, meaning the belt mechanism isn't automatic but dependent on the kid's foot movements. This is great because it reduces the risk of falling off, thus minimizing treadmill burns.

Final Thoughts

Statistics show that more and more kids seek medical attention due to treadmill accidents. That's because adults are more negligent when keeping children safe from treadmill falls.

With the right safety measures, you're okay having the treadmill at home, especially now that most folks are increasingly working from home.

All you need to do is re-read the safety instructions, use the safety key, find a separate room for the treadmill, and teach the kids on how the treadmill operates, and you're good.

Oh yes, you can also buy treadmills specially made for kids, which adhere to safety standards, thus keeping them safe.

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