On May 5, Peloton announced a recall of the Tread+ and Tread treadmills. The recall comes less than a month after Peloton initially dismissed the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)’s urgent warning about the dangers of the devices “after multiple incidents of small children and a pet being injured beneath the machines.” (Peloton’s CEO John Foley has since apologized for his initial response to the CPSC, and the company is offering a full refund to anyone who purchased the devices.)
It’s important to note that the Peloton Tread+ and Tread are not the first treadmills to cause injuries to its users or those in the surrounding area. In 2015, the CPSC stated that treadmills “cause more injuries than any other type of exercise equipment.” Treadmills caused an estimated 22,500 treadmill injuries in 2019, around 2,000 of those happened to children younger than eight.
Most of the injuries to adults over 25 are due to sprains or strains, according to a 2013 study. But other injuries, including burns and cuts, are possible, especially to children.
In 2009, Mike Tyson’s four-year-old daughter died in a tragic accident on a home treadmill. In that case, a cable attached to the treadmill caused the death.
With respect to the Peloton treadmills, the commission received 72 reports of children, pets, adults, and more being pulled under the treadmill. One six-year-old died. Peloton’s treadmills are slightly different than most treadmills. Most treadmills use a continuous belt. In contrast, the Peloton treadmills use “individual rigid rubberized slats or treads that are interlocked and ride on a rail,” and there’s a big space between the floor and the belt of the Tread+, which leaves room for things to slide underneath.
The CPSC also received reports about the touchscreen loosening or detaching and falling from the Tread.
Treadmill Safety Tips
The demand for home fitness equipment soared during the pandemic. According to Adobe Analytics, February to March of 2020, online fitness equipment sales rose 70%. This year, during that same time period, sales rose 535%.
In light of Peloton’s recall and with more people than ever buying treadmills, it’s important to review safety protocols to keep yourself, your children, and your pets safe around a treadmill.
Use The Safety Key
The safety key is one of the most important features of a treadmill, said John Galeotafiore, associate director of product testing at Consumer Reports. It’s a device that attaches on one end to the console and on the other end to the person using the treadmill. Treadmills will not operate without the safety key in the console. Galeotafiore suggests storing the key away from the treadmill when it’s not in use. This becomes especially necessary if young kids spend unsupervised time around a treadmill.
Additionally, he advises anyone using the treadmill to always use the safety key. That way, if you fall, the treadmill will stop and you’ll avoid further potential injury. Just be careful to not accidentally pull the key out while using the treadmill. The sudden stop could throw you off balance.
Watch For Power Cords
Power cords present a strangulation risk, especially to children, notes Patty Davis, a spokesperson for CPSC in an interview with NBC News. Chris Quatrochi, the senior vice president of innovation at fitness equipment purveyor Nautilus suggested unplugging the treadmill after each use and putting the cord out of a child’s reach in an interview with NBC News.
Keep Children Away
Keep children away from treadmills when in use. Treadmills can create a significant risk to young children. One study found that the injuries children most commonly sustained were lacerations or burns, or getting their hand caught under the belt while the treadmill was in use.
Set Up Your Treadmill Correctly And In The Right Place
Where you set up your treadmill is as important as how you use it. Treadmills should be set up on a level surface and there should be “some distance around the machine for emergency dismounts,” notes Quatrochi. Consumer Reports recommends leaving at least two feet on either side of the treadmill and six feet behind it.
Pay Attention And Keep Your Head Up
Try to limit distractions while you’re using the treadmill. If you stop paying attention, there’s a better chance you’ll start to drift, warns Zokai Holmes, a personal trainer at Crunch Gym in an interview with Today. Similarly, it’s easier to keep your balance if you’re looking up rather than down at your feet.
Don’t Get On Or Off A Moving Treadmill
Use the side rails for stability before your turn on the treadmill. Likewise, let the treadmill belt come to a full stop before getting off the treadmill.
Maintain The Machine
Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance directions. Keeping the machine clean and lubricated is essential for safe use. Also, be sure to wipe sweat after each use.
2020 was a year of many things, including the year of the home gym and home workout. It was the year of staying home to keep yourself and your community safe. But staying safe isn’t limited only to the pandemic. Safety is never something to be taken lightly. Especially when young children and treadmills are involved.