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Tips to keep your kids safe from exercise equipment and cords

The tragic death of boxer Mike Tyson's 4-year-old daughter may seem like a freak occurrence.

Yet almost 5,500 children under age 5 were treated in emergency rooms in 2006 and 2007 for treadmill-related injuries, according to statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Most had cuts, bruises and scrapes, primarily on the hands or fingers; one child's injury required an amputation. Thirty-two percent had their hands caught in or on the treadmill, in some cases suffering serious friction burns.

Consumer Reports researchers noticed burns were more likely to occur with treadmills than stationary bikes and elliptical trainers. The CPSC data shows treadmills and bikes, along with stair climbers, are the home exercise devices that pose the greatest hazard to youngsters.

Dr. Peter Antevy, a pediatric emergency room physician at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, Florida, said hanging cords also put young children at risk.

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, according to the Associated Press.

You should take these steps to prevent home exercise equipment and cord accidents in your home:

1. Do not allow children on or near exercise equipment when it's in use.

2. When not using a machine, unplug it or keep it in a locked room.

3. Do not put furniture near windows, where children could climb up to get to vertical blind cords.

4. Mount cords at least 5 feet above the floor if possible, where youngsters can't reach them.

5. Do not tie loops in a cord, instead use a device to tie it to the sill.