The horrifying danger of front-loading washing machines to children

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Always be sure your front loading washing machine and dryer have child locks! And please USE them!

Parents with young children know how important it is to child-proof every corner of their homes. So, we block entrances to stairs, seal medicine cupboards, turn pot handles away… the list goes on. However, there are spots in the home or household appliances that even the most diligent parent might miss. And recently, one mum learned this the hard way. 

Lindsey McIver took to Facebook to bravely share about her three-year-old daughter’s narrow escape with death, sending a reminder to all parents about laundry room hazards. In particular, the huge risk washing machines pose to curious toddlers. 

It was such a horrible experience for the mum to re-live that initially Lindsey was hesitant to write the post. She also did not want to deal with the onslaught of mum-shaming she knew she was going to get.

In her post she shared that her old washing machine had broken down so they purchased a new front load washing machine. After the excitement of the “new and cool” washing machine had died down, they spent that evening installing it in the laundry room with the kids around. 

They repeatedly reminded their three and four-year-old not to touch it. When both replied “OK,” they didn’t think much of it after that.

‘Kloe. Inside. Washer.’

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Parents need to be aware of the potential laundry room hazards – a picture of the washing machine after Lindsay fitted a child safety lock to its door. | Picture credit: Lindsey McIver

Come early Tuesday morning, their four-year-old son woke them up. He was crying so hard he could barely talk. As Lindsay was trying to understand what he was saying, her husband suddenly flew out of bed and down the stairs. It was then that she realised what he had said: Kloe. Inside. Washer. 

Horrified, they rushed to the laundry room in the basement. They found their three-year-old daughter Kloe LOCKED inside the airtight washing machine. It was tumbling and filling with water. She was screaming and screaming but because the washing machine was sealed shut, they couldn’t hear her.

Luckily they were able to stop the machine. After a quick injury assessment, it turned out that Kloe was fine, albeit wet and with a couple of small bumps on her head.

Although they are grateful that their three-year-old daughter is okay, that experience was too close to serious injury, or even death, for comfort. Lindsay and her husband shuddered at the thought of “what if‘s” had they not gotten there soon enough. She wrote:

I post this because I can honestly say we did not realise the danger of this machine. We are continually surprised at the new, inventive ways our kids come up with to try and die. And this was definitely a new one.

“I took this picture after we secured the door shut with a child safety lock. We also found a child lock feature on the settings that, as long as it is engaged, will not allow the washing machine to start. But it does not lock the door. We hadn’t even used the machine yet so we hadn’t looked at any of the settings. Also, it obviously took two curious kids to pull this off. I want to encourage anybody who has this type of front loading washing machine and small children, or even grandchildren who visit, to lock the door with a child safety lock and to always keep the child lock setting on!”

Laundry Room Hazards

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There is no parent in the world that would wish any form of danger upon their own kids. But the common problem when accidents DO happen is what Lindsay pointed out. It is the lack of safety awareness. And in this instance it is the lack of awareness around laundry room hazards.

Laundry room hazards? What laundry room hazards? There are, in fact, plenty if you look at things closely.

1. Potential Traps

Did you know that hundreds of children either die or are injured every year from injuries related to hiding in washers or dryers? It is the popularity of front-loading machines that makes it easy for your little ones to climb inside. Let’s not forget that the control panels are also within easy reach of their tiny, inquisitive fingers.

2. Fires

There’s also the risk of fire due to lint build-up if you own a dryer in your home. As long as there is excessive amount of lint in the lint filter, dryer vent, or even the exhaust duct, all this can block air flow, causing excessive heat that could lead to home fires. 

3. Chemicals

Make sure to keep cleaning products out of sight and beyond the reach of children. Also, keep any kind of chemical or detergent in a cupboard with a safety lock or latch. 

According to research, cosmetics and personal care products were the highest causes of death for children younger than six years, followed by cleaning substances and pain medications. Exposure to toxic chemicals is nearly always unintentional. And might we add, they are often avoidable too.

Young children have no concept of danger and can get into all sorts of accidents. Like Lindsey, let’s be vigilant in reminding each other not to make these mistakes. Mums already have a lot on their plates, so let’s support each other and keep our kids safe.

 

Sources: Lindsey McIver, KidsHealth

Read also: Save your child from high-rise accidents with this safety measure

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