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Kids will be kids, but when curiosity gets them interested in your washing machine, you need to be prepared. According to Consumer Reports, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is aware of three deaths of small children linked to washing machines.
“The CPSC is aware of three deaths among children 5 and younger since 2014 related to washing machines,” Patty Davis, a spokesperson for the agency, told Consumer Reports. Two of the deaths were caused by front-loading washing machines, according to Davis, while they aren’t sure of the type of washing machine involved in the third death.
The need to take safety precautions in the laundry room to keep your kids out of harm’s way is nothing new. But since a 3-year-old in Orlando died on Aug. 4 after becoming trapped in a front-loading washing machine, it seems necessary to address the seriousness of the issue again. According to the Orlando Sentinel, police are urging parents to take precautions.
“We … ask that parents speak with their children and teach them that washers, dryers and other appliances are not toys and should not be played with,” Orlando Police Department spokesman Cory Burkarth said in a statement. “This message also applies to adults/friends/family members who may have children visit their house, babysitters, etc.”
Beyond telling children of the dangers surrounding household appliances, there are extra precautions you can take to keep your mind at ease.
Lock The Door To The Laundry Room
First and foremost, Consumer Reports recommends locking the door to your laundry room to ensure that it’s off-limits to little ones.
Put A Lock On The Washing Machine Door
As an added precaution, you can put a physical lock on the outside of the door of any front-loading washer and dryer, much like you would a kitchen cabinet door. You can purchase locks on Amazon, such as this set of latches from Secure Home by Jessa Leona, available for $8.49 for a 2-pack.
Check The Positioning Of Your Machine
SFGate points out that making sure the washing machine is positioned according to manufacturer specifications — as close to the wall as possible, on a level surface — can help keep your little one safe. Following these rules makes it more difficult to access the water hose, drainage hose and other parts that could cause harm if disconnected.
Use The Lock-Out Feature
Many washer models come with a lock-out feature that prevents the door from being opened when not in use. If your washing machine has this option, be sure the lock is turned on when you’re not doing the laundry.
Install Power Switches For The Washer And Dryer
Consumer Reports also recommends going as far as getting your washer and dryer connected to a light switch. This might mean you’ll need the help of an electrician, but it would allow you to turn the appliances’ power supply on and off with the flip of a switch — one that’s out of reach for children. This option may seem a bit extreme but, as a parent, you can never be too careful.
What To Know If Your Child Gets Stuck In The Washing Machine
Should these precautions not work and your child becomes stuck in a washing machine, Carolyn Forte, director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at Good Housekeeping, has some advice:
“The doors lock once the machine starts,” Forte told Inside Edition. “That’s what they’re designed to do, but once the child gets trapped inside then it becomes a really dangerous situation.”
When this happens, don’t panic — just act quickly:
“If a child is stuck inside, just push the pause button, turn the machine off and the door will automatically open,” she said.
Parents, keep this information in mind when child-proofing the laundry room!