Sales of home exercise equipment have soared during the pandemic as more and more people are finding alternatives to working out at the gym.
“A lot of kids are naturally fascinated and curious about anything that’s new to them, so it’s understandable that children would find a home gym really attractive to check out,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw. “However, it can pose a safety risk to young children and even some older kids if that equipment is used inappropriately or if it’s not secured when not in use.”
It’s estimated that 25,000 kids under the age of 10 are injured by exercise equipment each year, according to a 2014 study from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. In 2019, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that U.S. emergency departments treated 2,000 children under age 8 for treadmill-related injuries alone. These unintentional injuries can often be severe, including:
- Friction burns
- Finger amputations
- Broken bones
Recently in March, a child was killed by a Peloton Tread+ treadmill and the company’s CEO urged consumers to secure their machines. Motorized machines, however, are not the only equipment parents should be concerned about.
“It’s really important that if you have free weights that they be down on the floor, not up on a rack where your kids may be able to pull them over on themselves. If you have a bench press, make sure you take the weights off, so the kids can’t try to lift that thing up and have it fall on their neck,” Dr. Bradshaw advises.
Dr. Bradshaw encourages parents to follow these tips:
- Never allow young children to be unsupervised around exercise equipment and use safety gates and lockable doors to keep them away.
- Unplug treadmills and other equipment when not in use and safely secure the power cords.
- If your equipment has a safety key, remove it from the machine and keep it in a separate, secure location.
“Anything that’s hanging, dangling, heavy, tippy, anything that’s powered by electricity—all of that needs to be secured every single time that you leave that gym space,” Dr. Bradshaw says.
If older children will be using the equipment, be sure to teach them the correct way to use it before they start.