For those of us who have washing machines in our homes, we probably don’t see them as dangerous objects. For little children, however, they can quite literally be death traps. In 2018, this Colorado family had a near-tragedy when their three-year-old got trapped in the washer. This is the message they have for all parents with washing machines.
Three-Year-Old Gets Trapped Inside Washing Machine
Lindsey and Alan McIver, like many adults, were excited about their brand new front-loading washing machine. They spent a day installing it and then explaining to their three young children that they were not to touch it. Then, very early the next morning, they had the fright of their lifetime. (1)
Their four-year-old son came running into their bedroom in tears. He was so distraught they could barely understand what he was saying. Alan jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to see what was wrong. That’s when Lindsey heard him start to scream.
A Very Close Call
Before she even got down there, Lindsey realized what the problem was: Kloe was inside the washer. She rushed downstairs and sure enough, their three-year-old daughter was trapped inside the washing machine. Her cries were muffled as the machine was filling with water and the tumble cycles began.
Thankfully, the parents got there in time to stop the washer and get their daughter out before she ran out of oxygen or drowned. Still, the couple was completely shaken. Naturally, Lindsey spent days beating herself up over the incident. She then decided to share the experience on Facebook to hopefully make others more aware of the dangers of their washing machine for their children.
“After going through all the ‘what if‘s’ and ‘could have’s’ we know we are very blessed and God had mercy on our sweet daughter,” she said in her post. “I post this because I can honestly say we did not realize 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.”
Washing Machine Safety For Your Kids
This, unfortunately, was not an isolated incident. About a year after the McIver’s incident a three-year-old in Orlando died after crawling into the family’s washing machine while playing with younger siblings. At some point, the door got closed on him. He died of lack of oxygen before anyone found him. (2)
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that since 2019 there have been three deaths of children under five years old involving washing machines and about 3,000 emergency room visits. Most of the cases were from falls, but this goes to show the curiosity of young children.
“The job of a child between ages 1 and 4 is to explore and to find out how the world works,” says Ben Hoffman, M.D., a pediatrician and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. “They’re curiosity machines, and by nature, impulsive.”
He says that they find water fascinating and the spinning of the clothes curious. They see their parents around the washer all the time, so why would they think it to be dangerous? For this reason, parents need to be very clear that washing machines are not playthings and the laundry room is also not a place of play. From there, there are several things that parents can do to keep their kids safe.
Child Washing Machine Safety
If your washer and dryer are in a different room, it is a good idea to keep this room locked. It is also best practice to keep washer and dryer doors shut at all times. If you are concerned about mold, then do your best to dry off the washer’s rim and inside of the door. Many machines have child safety lock features, so read through your manual to understand what yours does and how it works. (3)
Experts suggest always shutting off the water to the washer so that even if the child manages to turn it on, the water won’t run. Most modern machines won’t work at all, rather, they will send a signal saying that the water needs to be turned on first. You can also consider child safety locks on the washer and dryer doors, as well as installing additional control switches.
You will want to position the washer and dryer as close to the back wall as possible, while still following the manufacturer’s instructions. Limit the space on either side of the machines, as well. Always make sure both machines are level and stable, as well.