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Treadmills and kids don't mix!

Dangers with using treadmills around kidsTreadmills are great for fitness but can be dangerous to toddlers and young children. Even parents who carefully child-proof their home may not fully realise the risks associated with treadmills.

In the last few years more than 100 Australian children have been seriously injured by treadmills at home.

Most injuries happen when a baby or toddler moves to the back of the treadmill (where they are out of sight) and either touches the moving belt or gets their hand caught under it.

This can result in severe friction burns that can take many months to heal, possibly requiring skin graft operations and even plastic surgery when the child is older.

Under the law, all new treadmills in NSW are required to carry a prominent warning sticker to alert treadmill users to keep children away from machines when they are in use.

Safety tips

Safety tips for treadmills users are as follows:

  • If you can, use your treadmill in the room away from young children.
  • If this is not possible:
    • use safety barriers (like a playpen) to keep children away from the treadmill 
    • do not use your treadmill when young children are around
  • Always keep your treadmill unplugged when not in use. 
  • Store your treadmill well away from children’s reach.
  • Always supervise older children if they are using a treadmill. 
  • When you buy a new treadmill choose one with protective covers and a safety stop switch.

Case study

Friction burns from the treadmillEmily was just two years old when she accidentally touched the moving belt of the family’s new treadmill. In just a matter of seconds she had suffered friction burns so intense they removed tissue from the inside of three of her fingers, as well as leaving a burn across the inside of her palm. Her shocked mum remembers: “There was no blood – it was all just white”.

As a result, Emily needed treatment that included a skin graft operation, frequent bandaging, a splint and weekly visits to hospital. Almost one year later the treatment was continuing. Emily may need plastic surgery in the future to straighten her fingers. The accident occurred in seconds but the consequences will continue for many years.

Always keep your children away from fitness machines and make sure they cannot reach any moving part.

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