Laundry room dangerous for curious children

3 deaths linked to washing machines; detergent pods poisonous

SAN ANTONIO – The tragic death of a 3-year-old boy last August in Florida highlights a danger that may not occur to parents — the washing machine.

Police said it appeared the child died from a lack of oxygen after becoming trapped inside the front-loading washer at his home.

Since 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received reports of three deaths of children under the age of 6 linked to washing machines. The number of emergency room visits for injuries, most related to falls, associated with washing machines is nearly 3,000.

Children are curious, so Consumer Reports urges parents to take precautions by locking laundry room doors where possible and always keeping the doors to the washer and dryer shut.

“Many newer washing machines will have a lock out feature on the appliance,” said Haniya Rae, with Consumer Reports. “It’s often activated by holding a combination of buttons or holding down a button for several seconds.”

Laundry detergent pods remain a danger in the laundry room. In the first nine months of 2019, Poison Control Centers have reported 7,685 calls related to young children and laundry packets. The packets can look like candy to young children or others who are cognitively impaired.

“The detergent in laundry packets is more highly concentrated than other forms, and when you ingest or when it comes in contact with the skin or eyes, it can cause serious effects,” Rae said.

Major manufacturers have taken steps to make their packaging more child resistant, but injuries persist.

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