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Safety Alert Issued after Front-loading Washing Machine Fatalities

Consumer safety experts are urging parents to use extra caution with their front-loading washing machines after a three-year-old Orlando, Florida boy died trapped inside of the machine in his home. According to police, the boy died from lack of oxygen while inside of the washer.

According to Cory Burkharth, public information officer for the Orlando Police Department, it is being handled as an accidental death investigation.

Burkharth explained, “… a 3-year-old child was playing with a younger sibling when he climbed into a front-loading washing machine…” The door closed and the child ultimately suffocated.

Parents Should Educate Children, Lock Washing Machines

The chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention issued a statement calling for parents to explain to their children that appliances are not for play and that they need to view washing machines as they would the stove or anything else in their home that might pose a danger to their children.

Safety experts have provided a list of tips to help parents avoid tragedies like the one that occurred in Orlando. In addition to knowing where their young children are at all times, they should keep their laundry rooms locked and their washing machine doors shut. It’s also a good idea to use a childproof safety lock on the door and utilize their washer’s child-lock feature.

So far, the Orlando Police Department has not released the brand name of the washing machine involved in the incident. However, it is important parents realize that all front-loading washers pose a risk.

The Orlando PD has not released the name of the child in Orlando, but did not that the boy appeared to be playing with a sibling when he climbed into the washing machine. The door shut behind him and an airtight seal was formed. Officials assume the boy was hiding.

Paramedics who arrived on the scene performed CPR, but it was too late to save the boy.

Appliance-related Injuries Occur by the Thousands Every Year

Safety experts are aware of three washing machine-related deaths of children ages five and younger in the last five years. At least two of those deaths involved front-loading washers. There have been an additional 3000 emergency room visits reported during that same time period. Many of those visits were related to falls.

Last summer, a mother shared on Facebook that she’d found her daughter trapped in the washing machine in their home.

Burkharth also points out that it’s easy to understand why children might believe the washing machine to be something more than a household appliance. In the past, these machines were white and of very little interest to children. Nowadays, washing machines come in fun colors, feature “space-age” style doors, and feature fun lights and make cool sounds. And they are easy to crawl inside of.

To a young child, they might be reminiscent of playground equipment or something they would see at a local children’s indoor play area.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging parents to install child-proof safety locks on their front-loading machines. Many already come with this feature. Parents also need to talk to their children and create rules in the home that bar play around washing machines and dryers, just as they would stoves and outdoor equipment.

They also remind parents it’s a good idea to keep laundry detergent out of reach and avoid using pod-style detergent, especially when young children are in the home.

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