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Front-loading washing machine deaths prompt safety alert

Hayley Rieman

Following the tragic death of a toddler caught in a front-loading washing machine, consumer safety experts are offering extra caution to parents.

A three-year-old boy in Orlando, Florida died over the weekend when he found trapped inside a front-load washing machine in his home.

Police believe it was the lack of oxygen inside the washer that led to his death, according to Consumer Reports.

"We are currently investigating this tragic death as an accidental death,” Cory Burkarth, public information officer for the Orlando Police Department, said.

“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.”

“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, said.

Experts speaking to Consumer Reports recommend the following tips to prevent future tragedies:

1. Lock the door to your laundry room

2. Keep the washer door shut

3. Engage the washer’s lock-out/child-lock feature

4. Use a childproof safety lock

5. Shut off the water

6. Install additional power switches if necessary, such as a master switch

7. Don’t use laundry pods, which are tempting to young children

The name of the washer brand involved in the incident was not released by the Orlando Police, but the CPSC is still investigating the tragedy.

“The CPSC is aware of three deaths among children [five] and younger since 2014 related to washing machines,” Patty Davis, a spokesperson for the agency said, also highlighting that two of the deaths involved front-loading machines.

Since 2014 there has also been an estimate of 3,000 emergency-room-treated washer-associated injuries related to falls among children five and younger, the agency also noted.

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Experts advise you never let young kids play in the laundry room.

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