Peloton treadmill recall: How to keep your kids safe around home workout equipment

·5 min read

Peloton announced on Wednesday that the home fitness company is recalling its treadmills, nearly a month after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urged it to do so.

Peloton has issued a voluntary recall of its Tread+ and Tread treadmills after the death of one child as well as 70 injuries were linked to the machines, according to a joint press release from the company and CPSC. In mid-April, the CPSC warned people not to use the treadmills and urged Peloton to recall the machines. The CPSC also released a disturbing video that showed a child being sucked under one of the treadmills while playing at home.

Peloton pushed back at the time, saying in an April 17 statement online that the CPSC's warning was "misleading" and "inaccurate."

"There is no reason to stop using the Tread+, as long as all warnings and safety instructions are followed," the company said.

Now, Peloton has changed course. The company's CEO John Foley said in a statement on Wednesday that the decision to recall its treadmills was "the right thing to do" for customers and their families. "I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s request that we recall the Tread+," Foley wrote, adding that the company "should have engaged more productively with them from the outset."

Peloton sales exploded during the pandemic, but so have sales for many other forms of home workout items, such as bikes, ellipticals and free weights. But with the latest news, it's only natural to wonder how to talk to your kids about safety around these pieces of equipment.

Experts say it's crucial to have the conversation — and to put safety protocols in place.

"There have been a lot of reported injuries of children on exercise equipment as a whole," Kevin Borrup, executive director at the Injury Prevention Center, Office for Community Child Health at Connecticut Children's, tells Yahoo Life. "That’s the big reason why we should pay attention to this."

"There is a danger of serious physical harm or even death," Dr. Carlos Uquillas, pediatric sports medicine specialist and pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, tells Yahoo Life.

All workout equipment can be dangerous for kids, Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., tells Yahoo Life. "Things like free weights can be dropped on different parts of their body, causing a lot of damage — both minor and major," she says. "Stationary bikes can cause breaks and burns, and the most terrifying is treadmills because if not used correctly, they can potentially cause deaths to both children and adults alike."

Exercise equipment is also “very attractive to children — they see their parents using it and want to be doing what they are doing,” Nancy R. Kirsch, vice-chair of rehabilitation and movement sciences at the Rutgers School of Health Professions, tells Yahoo Life.

If your children are older, Borrup recommends talking to them about the potential dangers of exercise equipment, noting that they could fall and hit their head or get stuck under a machine. Kirsch recommends that adults be "very direct," and tell children that they "could easily get injured very badly and should never climb on or turn on the equipment." It’s also a good idea to emphasize how careful you are when you use the equipment and demonstrate that it's the right size for adults but not for children, Kirsch says.

It's hard for younger children to comprehend those warnings, however direct, Dr. Patricia Garcia, a pediatrician at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford, Conn., tells Yahoo Life. "Developmentally, they just don't understand this and cannot simply [be told to] not touch or interact with the equipment," she says. "You wouldn't tell a child, 'Just don't touch medication' or 'Don't open these cabinets,' you would make sure they couldn't access these items. Gym equipment is no different." 

Uquillas agrees. "The younger they are, the more you have to take it into your own hands to ensure safety," he says.

That’s why taking protective measures is crucial, Borrup says. That can mean doing a lot of different things, including:

Store the safety key away from the machine. Many home workout machines require that a safety key is in place before the machine will work. Borrup recommends keeping the key someplace that isn’t near the machine. "Don't leave it hanging there," he says.

Unplug your machine after use. And leave it unplugged until you’re ready to use it again. This lowers the risk that a child will start using it, Kirsch says.

Put your equipment in a locked room. If you have the space, Borrup suggests putting your exercise equipment in a room with a door that you can lock to keep your children away from it. If you don't have a separate room for your equipment, he suggests putting up a baby gate around it and always supervising children when they are around it. (Garcia points out that baby gates can be knocked over.)

Put a barrier between you and your children when you exercise. If you can, have someone watch your children while you exercise, Borrup says. If it's not possible, he suggests putting younger children in a cordoned-off play area so they’re separated from you while you work out but you can still keep an eye on them.

Stow small equipment away. Weights and blocks can pose a hazard, too. "When not in use, they need to be stored out of children's reach," Garcia says.

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