Spike in burns injuries from home treadmills

Spike in burns injuries from home treadmills

Person running on treadmill

As 2024 resolutions begin, families are being urged to help keep their children safe around home treadmills following a spike in burn injuries from the machine leading into the New Year.

Seventeen children were referred to The Burns Unit at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) after sustaining burns from treadmills in the three-month period of October to December 2023, with eight of those treated in October alone.

These numbers are an increase compared with the previous three-month period of July to September 2023, when 10 children were referred to CHW

“Sadly, we see a small but concerning rise in these types of injuries this time of year,” Head of the Burns Unit at CHW, Dr Torey Lawrence, said.

"Often serious friction burns occur when little fingers get caught in treadmills, with many requiring skin grafting. This can affect the long-term function of children’s fingers and hands.”

Most injuries occur when children are playing on or near the treadmills, and they receive friction burns from the speed and movement of the conveyor belt.

While physical health and fitness is a popular New Years resolution, Dr Lawrence said it is important the correct safety precautions are followed to keep children safe.

Parents are encouraged to only use a treadmill when children are not in the room, install a safety guard around it and to unplug the devices when not in use. 

"As parents, we know that accidents can happen in the blink of an eye and often when we least expect it. Having safety measures in place can help minimise this risk and help keep children safe in and around the home,” Dr Lawrence said.

If your child has suffered a burn, immediate first aid is vital to reduce the severity of the injury. This includes:

  • Place the burn under cool running water for 20 minutes. This will cool the burn and reduce swelling and is the only proven effective treatment.
  • Remove any clothing or jewellery where possible.
  • Never use ice, iced water, cream, gel, toothpaste, butter or anything other than cool running water.
  • Seek medical help if you have any concerns and dial 000 in the event of emergency.

For more information on burns prevention and first aid, visit the SCHN Kids Health Promotion website.