Although it is a sobering thought it is also a fact that the most common cause of death amongst children between the ages of 1 and 4 is unintentional injury. Children are in themselves very curious and have a fearless attitude born out of the fact they have not gained experience, they are innocent.
It is our responsibility as parents and guardians to ensure our children are protected from any unintentional injury. An area in which this is clearly evident, is when using home gym equipment. There are thousands of cases each year in which children have been rushed to hospital with injuries from things like treadmills and exercise bikes.
Examples of injury sustained from fitness equipment in the home are very numerous. An Australian survey showed that 1% of paediatric burns admitted to hospitals, were the result of incident with treadmills. These occur when a child falls or places their hands onto the moving treadmill or get trapped on the underside where belt meets the frame. The Australian survey also noted that these incidents are on the rise.
Incidents with exercise bikes are particularly horrific and include ripped tendons and missing fingers due to the child placing their fingers into the spokes of the wheel as it turns. The wheel is not the only dangerous area, un-covered chains and cogs are very harmful if a child gets caught or snagged in them.
Another aspect of home gym equipment that can be highly dangerous to children is traditional weights. Injuries to little fingers as the weights drop on machines such as Lat pull machines and chest presses are very common and debilitating for the youngster. There have even been cases where unsupervised children have suffocated from trying to bench press an adults weights.
Less obvious hazards also make up a large proportion of injuries to children with exercise equipment. Hazards such as pulley cables on weight machines or cords to electrically driven machines for example. Only in 2009 the ex-boxer Mike Tyson lost his little girl when she was found strangled by the cord of a treadmill.
Some of you may feel that these are obvious hazards that anyone in their right mind would stop their children from using, and you would be right. The thing is 99% of parents do not allow their children to play about with home gym equipment and the accidents themselves usually take place in the absence of a parent or guardian or when the parent has his or her back turned.
There are a few simple rules to follow to prevent your child from coming close to hurting themselves. These are not intended to chastise those whom have had a child injured but to educate by learning from the experience of others.
- Exercise equipment should be off limits to children and strong rules and punishments in place for when/if they disobey your rules. Stickers and warnings are plastered all over the machines for a reason. Put a lock on the door or a child barrier.
- If you do not have the space to separate kids from machinery then make sure the safety keys are removed or with more modern equipment take the magnet with you. Hide this in a safe place and only use when needed.
- When the gym room is in use the best idea is to face the door so you can see when your child enters or attempts to enter. Do not let them out of your site or to go behind you where their curiosity may get the better of them.
- Take off headphones and other accessories which may take your attention away from what your child is doing.
- Weights and machines are very dangerous so it is advised that you purchase weight machines or mini gym’s with a protective barrier around the housing where the weights go. These are being produced with the child’s safety in mind.
- Spend that bit of extra time wrapping up cords and cables when not in use and tucking them away out of reach of the kids.
Children will always be at risk due to their natural inquisitiveness and it is not the fault of bad parenting that brings about injury. However injuries do occur and we can all take a step towards preventing and protecting by making small changes to the way we look at things.