Consumer Reports: Safety precautions for home treadmills

A home treadmill can be a great way to kick off your resolution to work out more in the new year. But what many people never consider are the dangers surrounding them.

Roughly 22,000 people end up in the emergency room every year with injuries from treadmill accidents. Safety Experts at Consumer Reports say there are some fairly simple, but important precautions to take if you have a treadmill in your home.

In September of 2018, tragedy struck a Pennsylvania home, when a 5-year-old boy died after getting pulled underneath a treadmill by the moving belt.

"People don't really understand how dangerous this moving belt can be," said Peter Anzalone, Consumer Reports Treadmill Expert.

Anzalone says you can take several steps to help prevent a treadmill tragedy in your house. Starting with where you put it.

"It's not a good idea to position a treadmill right up against a wall. If you fall, and the treadmill belt continues to turn, you'll get wedged in between the wall and the treadmill. What you need to do is keep a couple of feet on either side of the treadmill and then at least 6 feet behind it. So if you do fall, there's a space for you to escape," said Anzalone.

Never allow kids near a treadmill - even when you're on it. But the best protection is the safety key.

"So, this is the safety key. If this is not inserted in the machine, it just won't start. And if you don't want your kids to get hurt around a treadmill, take the safety key out and put it somewhere, where they can't find it," said Anzalone.

Another safety tip is to straddle the belt until it starts, so you don't get knocked off your feet. Also, keep your head up while you're moving. Looking down at your feet can actually throw you off balance.

And always use the safety clip. It attaches to your workout clothes and if you should fall, the string pulls out the safety key, stopping the moving belt.

Finally, when you're finished, wait until the belt comes to a complete stop, before stepping off.

Consumer Reports also says good maintenance can be another key to safety. Keep the running belt aligned, the deck under the belt properly lubricated, tighten loose hardware and wipe up any sweat - especially on the hand grips and controls - every time you use it.

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