After a three-year-old boy tragically died recently after becoming trapped inside a front-loading washing machine, parents are being urged to not only enlist a number of safety precautions to keep little ones in their homes safe but to also teach their children about safety rules when it comes to the washing machine. Children are curious by nature and it's amazing when kids want to know about appliances like the washer and dryer, but in order to try to prevent any further accidents, parents are being urged to teach their children safety rules about all major household appliances.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there have been approximately 3,000 children ages 5 or younger who were seen in emergency rooms since 2014 due to injuries associated with washing machines, including three fatalities. Children are often fascinated by washing machines so parents need to be vigilant to keep them safe.
Not everyone has a designated laundry room with a door, but if you do you should consider having a lock on the door that is engaged at all times when an adult isn't in the room. This will prevent children from having access to the washing machine if an adult isn't present. Richard Handel from Consumer Reports also suggests never letting your child play in your laundry room at all. "If your washer and dryer are in a separate room, close the door and lock it," he says. "Do not let young children play in the laundry room, period." If your laundry room has a door but no lock, safety experts suggest getting a lock for that room and using it. Explaining to your child why they can't play in the laundry room is also important so they understand why it's off-limits to them and they won't be tempted to try to sneak inside.
Use the Child Lock
Washers and dryers can look like a fun place to hide or play in for many children, which is why it's important to keep your machine locked at all time. Carolyn Forte, director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute explained to Inside Edition that most machines have a child safety lock and parents need to use it. "The front-loading washers are particularly attractive to kids," she explained. "The doors open wide. They look like a great place to hide. The doors lock once the machine starts, and that's what they're designed to do. But once the child gets trapped inside then it becomes a really dangerous situation," she added. "The best thing you can do is engage the child lock," she said. "Every machine we've seen always has them. "A child could pull all they want. The child lock is on. ... They won't be able to play inside." She also suggested buying a child-safe lock if the machine doesn't come with one.
#SpeedCleanSaturday: Today's tip is on safety. Sadly, a boy died after being trapped in a front-load washer. Engaging the machine's child locks is crucial. Learn more in this @NBCNews story from the @goodhousemag Cleaning Lab. @AHAM_Voice @CleanInstitute https://t.co/g4rvatvl3n pic.twitter.com/NZ8nD2Oz4Z— Carolyn Forte (@ForteCarolyn) August 10, 2019
Explain to Your Child How It Works
It's important for parents to teach their age-appropriate children how the washing machine works and what its job is so they understand that it isn't a toy. "It's critical that parents explain to their young children that appliances are not toys and that they can be dangerous" Ben Hoffman, M.D., chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, told Fox Business. Explaining to children how the machine works and that the doors lock automatically will help older children understand that it isn't something that should be played with.
Turn Off the Water Source
Consumer Reports suggests turning off the water source to the washing machine when it's not in use. Once you're done using the washer, simply turn off the valve to the water supply. "Most front-loading washers will stop running and show an error code if the water is off." Good Housekeeping also suggests having the power supply to the washer run on a wall switch. If the washer is not in use, the switch should be off at all times. "Hire an electrician to wire a ‘master’ switch for the washer and another for the dryer that you can turn off when it’s not in use," says Jim Nanni, associate director of CR’s appliance testing. "That way your child won’t be able to turn on the appliances even if she can reach the buttons."
Keep Detergent Out of Reach
It goes without saying that detergent should be kept out of reach of children, but laundry pods have been proven to be very attractive to younger children and therefore should be stored out of sight and reach. "Consumer Reports believes liquid laundry pods should be avoided in homes where children under 6 years old or adults who are cognitively impaired may be present," says Don Huber, director of product safety for Consumer Reports. "Contact with or ingestion of the packet's liquid contents may pose a risk of serious injury or death."
It's exciting when children show an interest in household appliances, especially when they're old enough to tackle some of the chores around the house as well, but washing machines can be very dangerous. Teaching your children they're not toys and explaining to them the rules of use as well as taking necessary safety precautions can keep everyone safe in the house.