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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