Three-year-old boy found dead in washing machine in Florida

A three-year-old has died after climbing into a washing machine.
A three-year-old has died after climbing into a washing machine. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A three-year-old US boy has died after becoming trapped in a washing machine.

Authorities say the child, who has not been named, was playing with a sibling on Sunday when he climbed inside the washer in Orlando, Florida. Firefighters performed CPR on the boy before taking him to Orlando Arnold Palmer hospital. He was later pronounced dead.

Orlando Police Department spokesman Cory Burkarth told the Orlando Sentinel that the investigation is ongoing and likely to be deemed an accident.

The tragedy prompted police to issue a warning to parents about common household appliances.

"In order to prevent an incident like this from happening again, we are asking parents to take precautions to keep their children safe in the laundry room," Mr Burkarth said. 

"Laundry rooms with their own doors and handles can be secured using a child-proof handle or lock, which can prevent children from gaining access to the laundry room in the first place. In addition, the doors of a washer and dryer should be closed and locked at all times. We also ask that parents speak with their children and teach them that washers, dryers and other appliances are not toys and should not be played with."

Last year, Colorado mum Lindsay McIver took to Facebook to share the harrowing story of the moment her three-year-old became stuck in their washing machine.

"By the time we reached the laundry room in the basement, my three-year-old daughter Kloe was LOCKED inside the airtight washing machine," the Kansas mum wrote in a post to Facebook.

"It was tumbling and filling with water. She was screaming but you couldn't hear her."

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Ms McIver and her husband managed to stop the appliance, unlock the door and rescue their frightened little girl.

"Aside from a couple of small bumps on her head and wet clothes, she was fine," she wrote. "I post this because I can honestly say we did not realise the danger of this machine. We are continually surprised at the new, inventive ways our kids come up with to try and die.

"This was definitely a new one".

In 2009, a four-year-old US girl was killed after climbing into a front loader washing machine, which her one-year-old brother had turned on. And in 2011, a four-year-old UK boy had his arm ripped off when it became stuck in a washer door. 

A report published in the British Medical Journal in 2003, examined data from 496 washing machine related injuries, documented by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

"Though most injuries associated with washing machines are minor, some are severe and devastating," the authors wrote, adding that the study was initiated after a child sustained a brain injury from a near drowning in a washer.

There were two deaths associated with automatic washing machines: one from a washing machine falling on a child and one from drowning in the water filled machine. Injuries occurred predominantly in the one-two year age group, and included lacerations and fractures.

Late last year The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a safety alert after receiving numerous reports of suffocations deaths involving children who had crawled inside, "latch type freezers, clothes dryers, combination washer/dryer units, picnic coolers, ice boxes in campers, and old-style latch type refrigerators".

Most of the victims were aged four to seven and in all cases the doors could not be easily pushed open from the inside.

"In some of the incidents associated with clothes dryers, the appliance was accidentally turned on while the child was inside," the CPSC notes. "Frequently, the children were playing "hide-and-seek" and the appliance or chest provided a deceptively good place to hide. When the door slammed shut, the tight fitting gasket on most of the appliances cut off air to the child. This, along with the insulated construction of the appliance, also prevented the child's screams from being heard."

The "Laundry" component of KidSafe Australia's Home Safety Checklist reminds parents to ensure that appliances with lids or doors, including front loading washing machines and dryers, are kept closed when not in use to prevent young children opening them and climbing in.