While doing laundry is the bane of many a parent's existence, never did one Colorado mom think her washing machine could be a danger to her children.
In a Facebook post sharing her family's heart-stopping experience, Lindsey McIver said she and her husband woke up last Tuesday to their 4-year-old son "crying so hard he could barely talk." Her husband had immediately flown out of bed and down the stairs when Lindsey realized what her son had said: "Kloe. Inside. Washer."
When the parents reached the basement, they found their 3-year-old daughter trapped inside their new, unused front-loading washer. And it was running.
What the mom described next is hard to read.
"Kloe was LOCKED inside the airtight washing machine. It was tumbling and filling with water. She was screaming but you couldn’t hear her," she wrote.
She and her husband were able to stop the machine and quickly get their soaked daughter out, who fortunately only suffered a few small bumps on her head.
Lindsey was initially hesitant to write the post, both because she was wary of the mom-shaming that might happen and because it was hard to "re-live" the accident. But she realized that sharing could help prevent a tragedy.
"We need to be open and honest about our mistakes to help one another keep our kids safe. And trust me, that mom is already beating herself up enough," she wrote.
The couple had bought the new washer the day before, just after their old one broke down. They installed the machine with the kids underfoot, warning them multiple times not to touch it and getting a verbal "OK." But kids are curious and sometimes put themselves in dangerous situations when you look away even for a second.
The mom now knows not to overlook safety precautions with washers. She urges anyone with young children in their home to lock the door with a child safety lock and use the washing machine's child lock feature, if it has one. For the machine they bought, the child lock feature (which they hadn't engaged at the time) doesn't keep the door locked but it won't allow the washing machine to start.
The American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations are in line with Lindsey's warnings. Parents should use child locks on front-loading washers and dryers to prevent children from opening doors or crawling in while the machines are in use. Other laundry room safety tips include storing laundry products away and out of sight of children and pets (store them in a high, locked cabinet—not on top of the machines). Parents should also clean the lint trap after each use, as clogged lint traps are a common cause of house fires. And never let the kids play or hang onto the doors of washers and dryers, which can tip over.