A 3-year-old"s death is linked khổng lồ a front-loader. CR"s experts offer advice on how lớn prevent such a tragedy.

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You might not think of your washing machine as dangerous, but if you have young children in the house, that appliance can be deadly. On Aug. 4, a 3-year-old child in Orlando died of what police believe might have been a lack of oxygen after getting trapped inside the front-loading washer in his home.

"We are currently investigating this tragic death as an accidental death,” says Cory Burkarth, public information officer for the Orlando Police Department. “It appears that a 3-year-old child was playing with a younger sibling when he climbed into a front-loading washing machine, and at some point the door ended up being closed.”

The Orlando police would not release the name of the washer brand. Meanwhile, the Consumer hàng hóa Safety Commission is also investigating the death.

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“The CPSC is aware of three deaths among children 5 and younger since năm trước related to washing machines,” says Patty Davis, a spokesperson for the agency. Two of the deaths involved front-loaders, according to Davis. The CPSC doesn"t know the type of washer in the third death.

The agency also estimates that since 2014, there have been about 3,000 emergency-room-treated washer-associated injuries among children 5 & younger. Most of the cases were related to lớn falls.

It"s critical that parents explain to their young children that appliances are not toys, & that they can be dangerous. It"s equally important khổng lồ point out any potential dangers lớn anyone watching your children while you’re away. Remember that young kids are at a developmental stage that makes them especially curious.

“The job of a child between ages 1 và 4 is lớn explore and to find out how the world works,” says Ben Hoffman, M.D., a pediatrician in Portland, Ore., và chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Injury, Violence và Poison Prevention. “They’re curiosity machines, và by nature, impulsive.”

Water fascinates them, Hoffman says. Children see their parents around washers all the time, & they can see clothes moving around through the front-loader’s door, so it naturally piques their curiosity. “We can’t hazard-proof kids, so we need to be as careful as we can in identifying hazards and protecting them,” says Hoffman.

Below, CR"s experts offer advice on how lớn keep your child safe if you have a front-load washer in your home.

Lock the Door to lớn Your Laundry Room The absolute best plan is to prevent your kids from getting access lớn the washer at all. “If your washer & dryer are in a separate room, close the door & lock it,” says Richard Handel, who oversees CR’s tests of laundry appliances. “Do not let young children play in the laundry room, period.”

Keep the Washer Door Shut Leaving the door xuất hiện on front-loaders can help prevent mold, but if you have young children at home, keep the door closed. You can dry off the washer’s rim and inside of the door after washing a load to help keep mold down if that is a concern.

Engage the Washer’s Lock-Out Feature Many washers these days have a lock-out or child-lock feature—typically activated by holding a combination of buttons or holding a button down for a certain number of seconds. How they function & what they vì chưng varies: On some models, it locks the washer door và prevents a child from opening it; on others, it prevents the machine from starting. If you’re unclear what the child lock on your machine does, kiểm tra the manual.

Use a Childproof Safety Lock A lock you put on the outside of a front-load washer’s door will also prevent your child from opening it. The concept is the same as a lock for cabinet or oven doors. It"s a good idea khổng lồ put one on your dryer, too.

Shut Off the Water When your washer is not in use, turn off the water valve that feeds it. Most front-loading washers will stop running and show an error code if the water is off.

Consider Installing Additional power nguồn Switches “Hire an electrician to wire a ‘master’ switch for the washer và 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 lớn turn on the appliances even if she can reach the buttons.” (Such shut-off switches are required by code for mechanical equipment such as boilers.) Just make sure the switch is located out of sight và out of reach of small children.

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Beware of Laundry Pods, Too In addition khổng lồ safety precautions with washers, keep in mind that laundry detergent packets, also known as pods or pacs, can be especially tempting, & dangerous, khổng lồ young children.

“CR 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 sản phẩm safety for Consumer Reports. “Contact with or ingestion of the packet"s liquid contents may pose a risk of serious injury or death.”