The recent death of Mike Tyson’s 4-year-old daughter, found with a treadmill cord around her neck while her mother cleaned in another room, has called attention to the hazard that home exercise equipment poses to children. Doctors report that the emergency room sees approximately 25,000 children per year who suffer from a broad range of home exercise equipment-related injuries.
An Australian study last summer found that treadmill friction injuries account for about 1% of pediatric burns, but that number is on the rise. These treadmill injuries include a growing number of severe burns on the hands of children who touch around or under the treadmill belt while it’s running, and the burns can be severe enough to require multiple skin grafts or cause permanent disability.
While some incidents occur when unsupervised children play with unlocked equipment, many take place while a parent is using the machine. Australia is putting a new standard into effect this month that requires all new treadmills to carry a prominent warning sticker alerting treadmill users to keep children away from the machine when it’s in use. Owners should keep home exercise equipment locked and unplugged to prevent children from starting the machines and should position equipment so that parents have a clear view of approaching children while they exercise.