Parents warned about dangers of small children playing near front-load washers

A front-load washer at Bishopp's Appliances in Shelbyville, Indiana. (WTHR)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — A 13 investigates consumer alert for parents with front load washing machines.

The popular washers conserve water and are energy efficient but are also dangerously attractive to small children who want to play inside them.

In fact, a three-year-old child died inside one of them after becoming trapped.

According to consumer reports, more than 2,000 children are seriously hurt each year after climbing into or falling into washers and dryers.

That’s what happened in Florida.

The three-year-old climbed inside the front loader and either pulled the door shut or another child shut the door.

Even though the washer was never started, the child die from suffocation.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers said U.S. safety standards require a latched door to open from the inside with 15 pounds of force. But for a small child who doesn’t know how to use bodyweight to push the door open, it can be deadly.

Doug Cassidy is the manager of Bishopp’s Appliances in Shelbyville, Indiana.

He said manufacturers equip front loaders with child locks, but the feature won’t keep children from opening the doors to washers and dryers.

“There is a child lock here, and it stops (a child) from turning it and pushing the start button. But as far as a stop (for) locking the door, it does not do that,” Cassidy explained.

If the washer is activated, the door will lock and cannot be opened from the inside.

To rescue a child trapped inside an activated washer or dryer, push the pause button and then unplug the machine to get the door open.

To add more protection, owners of front loaders can add a pedestal. A 15-inch pedestal would put the bottom of the washer much higher off the ground making it more difficult for a small child to open the door and climb inside. No matter what, it's important to secure the laundry area so little ones can’t get into the area to play.