5 Tips to Keep Kids Safe around Home Exercise Equipment

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When I heard the story about Mike Tyson's 4-year-old daughter dying in a freak treadmill accident, I assumed this kind of thing was pretty rare. I was surprised to learn that thousands of young children are treated in hospitals for treadmill-related injuries each year. Although most injuries are minor, some are very serious. That got me to thinking about the safety of home workout equipment, especially in my own home where my young children could be at risk.

According to Consumer Reports, treadmill burns are some of the most common injuries that occur when toddlers touch the belt while it's running. Some of those injuries occur when children are unsupervised, but many happen when the child approaches from behind while the parent is running or walking. I know there have been times when my daughter gets close to the treadmill while I'm running, and I'm lucky I notice to stop her from getting too close.

But treadmills aren't the only equipment that should be kept out of a young child's reach. Bikes, stair climbers, and weight machines can also cause injury. It's easy for little fingers to get caught between moving parts. In the case of Tyson's daughter, the Associated Press reported that Phoenix police said there was a cord hanging from the console of the treadmill in Tyson's house and that his daughter had slipped or put her head in the loop, which then tightened.

There are some easy steps you can take to make your home safer and prevent exercise equipment accidents:

1. Don't allow children around your exercise equipment when it's in use. If you're trying to squeeze in a workout with the kids around, try setting them up in another area of the room with a game or other activity to keep them occupied. But if you do that, make sure it's in a place where you can see them.

2. When you're not using the machine, keep it unplugged or in a locked room. Unplugging will also help save on your energy bills!

3. Do not put furniture near windows that have blind cords, since children could easily climb up and get caught in them. This applies not only to exercise equipment, but all of the furniture in your house. You can also get cord wind-ups like these. I use them in my home to keep cords out of reach.

4. According to Consumer Reports, "If your treadmill has a safety clip—the clip that attaches to your clothing and is meant to shut off the machine in the event of a fall or when you're not using it—remove it when the machine is not in use. This switch attaches to the treadmill by a cord and can pose a strangulation risk for your child if you tie it around the treadmill’s handrail. Most machines won’t turn on without the safety clip attached, so removing it will also prevent accidental operation of the machine."

5. Do not tie loops in a cord, but instead find a way to attach the cord to the machine in a safe way.

Do you have other safety tips for using home exercise equipment with young kids around? Share them here!

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SUNSET09 6/16/2021
Be mindful of your fitness equipment just like you are with poisons, SparkFriends. Report
BLOND1E 5/24/2021
Thanks Report
ERIN_POSCH 7/27/2020
thanks for sharing Report
WILDKAT781 6/30/2020
thanks Report
We must always be careful and alert when there are children in our homes. Report
Thanks for the Post.... Report
Great articles, I can be more prepared for my future kids and I can share this with my brother and sister in-law! We have elliptical machine at home and when my nieces around it, we always make sure that at least one adult watches them. Even though no one is using the elliptical while they're around the machine, who knows what might happen? My 4-year-old niece can move the elliptical with her legs and arms but if she somehow slips ... Report
oh yeah you guys keep the pets away too. my cats love to investigate me whenever i am m

or will try to come onto the treadmill or trampoline when i am on it. Report
i try to be with my grandchildren when they visit since they are so young. they are always hopping on my treadmill and so does the cat. i shoo em away. you just have to watch them the best that u can. i try to keep the key off of my treadmill...unplugging is hard because i never know when they come over...i have to look for the key most times when they leave because they will get to it before i do...thank goodness they do not know how to turn it on...hell i forget how sometimes because you have to do three things to get it to come on even when it is plugged in. oh and the little trampoline is not a toy...you have to be very careful with the exercise trampoline. Report
this is really good information.. I ofter thought that letting my kids exercise on it is a good thing but I see that this can be dangerous and I will wait for them to get a little bigger. thank you for this information Report
good tips
Good point about putting young children in a seperate area of the room and keeping them supervised while you work out. Here in Phoenix leaving children alone can have drastic results, like hundreds of children drowning in backyard pools every year. I think cordoning an area off around exercise equipment is safer and practical. TV isn't a baby sitter, but during a workout letting them watch Sponge Bob is better than a nightmarish accident. Report
I have a hard and fast rule - no one under the age of 10 is allowed to touch my exercise bike. It's in the living room so I'll actually use it, so my kids have grown up knowing not to touch it. My young nephews have learned to stay away from it, too. Report
I can't add anything that someone else hasn't already suggested. As with some of the other posts where are parent when children are goofing around? Even when my grandchildren come over I don't allow horseplay with any equipment! Report
Very sad. Even when we try to be vigilant, do all the right things, sometimes something bad still happens. It's difficult to fathom, but perhaps the purpose of this child's life was to serve as a warning and save others. Pray for the Tyson Family, please. Report
I have my treadmill in the living room. I leave the bottom down instead of folding it up so it can't fall on the kids. Also, the safety clip is so high that it is almost out of my reach, lol. The treadmill is kept unplugged and the light switch in the off position. Not only does it need plugged in but the switch turned on.

I do have a problem with the kids climbing on the treadmill no matter what I have told them and I have told them about Mike Tyson's daughter. I did buy them some 2lb hand weights they can use when I am working out and I only get on the treadmill when they are laying on the futon to go to sleep and I can see them. Report
we have an elliptical machine in our living room (no "extra" room in our house).
My 2 year old was constantly sitting on the pedals and making them slide. I was so afraid she was going to get her fingers or toes stuck in the guides.
My boyfriend cut a piece of wood to fit the length of the glide when it's not being used, this way if she sits or touches the pedals, it does not go anywhere! Report
With that lock out switch thing, would it be possible to attach velcro to it and attach it somewhere by that? Report
Great information, Jen thanks for sharing. Report
I work at a child care center and a few weeks ago, a two year old that attends my center got her hand stuck in the treadmill while her Mom was working out. I guess the doctors were able to save her fingers, but she's currently going though physical therapy and they are waiting to see if she will need a skin graft or not. SO SCARY!! Report
We trained our son since he was a toddler not to go to the exercise room when we're not with him. He's very good at keeping the rule. The only time he goes to the basement to "exercise" is when his dad rides his bike there. Report
We keep the exercise room locked at ALL times. And when we workout, we have the older kids (11 and 13) watch the younger ones (1 and 4)... they will watch a movie or some cartoons... sometimes go for a walk around the block - but either way, there is NO way the little ones are going near our exercise room - we have a full home gym - too much to worry about the little ones getting hurt on. Report
I really felt so bad for Mike Tyson when I heard the story. This doesn't hit home personally because I don't have small children or exercise equipment, but I will definitely think twice if I ever have grandchildren. Report
I bought my small children their own type of gym equipment, like a foam hopscotch mat, Elmocise dvd, little water bottles with a handle for their little hands, a small stability ball to roll on and they love exercising when I do. Report
Don't leave small kids unattended. I see this in the stores in the gym equipment area and wonder WHERE are the parents??? Report
We purchased a child fence with gate and have that around the weight machine, elliptical, treadmill, and kicking bag. Report
Here in MN there was an accident a few weeks ago where a toddler was injured when a bench press bar with weight tipped over on him. Remember to take all weight off of your bench press bar when not in use and store properly in a place where they can not fall onto anyone. Report
Never, ever, ever go on a treadmill barefoot. Or in the dark. Or with the clippy thing wound around the handle instead of attached to your clothing. I broke all three rules. Three strikes and you're out. Or at least out a little toe. I hit the wrong button, and instead of going up 1/10 mph, it began going 10 mph and threw me to the mat, knees and elbows. My left foot must have curled under the belt and my little toe was severed just below the lowest knuckle. Ultimately the toe and a small chunk of my foot were amputated. This happened Feb. 28th and tomorrow I will finally be released from wound care. It's been along and painful process and a lesson well learned. PLEASE don't allow children or pets to run on your treadmills. I even wrote to the Dog Whisperer when I saw him placing a Dalmation puppy on a treadmill in a fire station. It would be so easy for his little paw to slip under the belt as he was jumping for his leash that was tied around the handle. I was truly afraid for him. Unfortunately, I got no response so I don't know that it actually got to him. Thank you for addressing this very important issue!! Report
My kids grew up and made it through safely...thank God. I did however have issues with their fingers getting pinched in my rower, they learned eventually not to put their fingers in the rollers. Good information however, should there be grandchildren around someday. Report
I don't have kids or any large scale cardio equipment at home, but I am always disgusted when I go to Sears and I see unsupervised small children playing on the display cardio equipment! Report
We don't have any little ones around YET! and these are all great tips. I know how dangerous they can be I fell off a treadmill once, it stopped suddenly then started again and off the back I went. I got a serious burn on my leg from it (angle to knee). I only walk on them now no more running for me. Report
sounds like the treadmill is the worst problem. I have a gazelle, and my grandkids do like it. One kid stepped behind it while another was on it, so I moved it so that there was no room to stand behind it while someone was on it.

Safety is an issue with any toy or machine, but I'd never have thought of burns from the treadmill belt so I'm glad I read this. I think it would apply to my sewing machine treadle belt as well, although not as big a problem (smoother and narrower and right in front of me when in use). I also kick that off when not in use.

i always unplug my treadmill and i also keep the safety chip in a drawer in a different room when not in use cause my 3 year old has plugged in the treadmill when i wasn't looking. as for weights. i bought my son a pair of 1lb dumbbells and he knows those are the only ones he is allowed to touch. Report
My grandchildren are always touching my equipment. We have it all around the house and it is difficult to keep watch in every room. The weight bench is exposed; we remove the weight key to prevent the weights from being lifted and keep watch on the balance. They are allowed to use the portable stepper if they weight enough to shift the steps. The balance of the heavy equipment is in the a back room where they are not allowed to play. Report
Good stuff, Jen!

My GS loves our exercise bike, & my biggest fear there is that he will fall off it! LOL But, we also loves to heft my dumbbells around (Granny's visualizing a broken toe or two...), & the jump rope? I keep that out of sight, mostly for the safety of lamps & vases & stuff, but it's good to think of GS's safety, too! Report
Keep the room locked where you have equipment that could be dangerous to children. Report
No Children either, but still we all need to be aware of this.
Thanks for the great article.
You can never be to safe.
Have a great day everyone!
:o) Report
Since I don't have little one's at home, I never gave any thought to issues like these...sure makes one stop and think. Thanks for reminding us... Report
Great article!!! We set our treadmill up in our bedroom and my husband and I can keep an eye out for the kids if they come in the room. We also won't allow them on it, even if it's not on. Report
Great article Jen. Report
Yeah my sister in law decided the best place to set up her treadmill was in the kids PLAY ROOM!!! (Her theory was she could watch them and workout at the same time) No surprise that one of the triplets stuck his hand in between the frame and belt while she was on it and not paying attention and his hand was severely burned. People need to use common sense. Report
It's definitely a good idea to secure exercise equipment or any other furniture that can potentially harm children.
We have a treadmill in a room that can be locked and keep the safety clip in a safe place. We also have a rule that no children can get on the treadmill, even when it's not moving.
It's just like any other safety step you take to keep children safe - lock away the poisons (cleaning liquids, bleach, etc.), put outlet covers on, etc. It's so much better to child-proof the entire house (as much as possible) than have to deal with a child that's been injured in some way - especially when most of it is easy to prevent.