An Oklahoma girl has died after being electrocuted by a clothes dryer in the family home.
In a statement to WAFF 48, Johnston County Sheriff’s Office said 4-year-old Lily Minyard went behind the family dryer to get a toy puppy that had gotten stuck when she touched a bare spot on an electrical wire that led to the dryer. She was electrocuted instantly.
Despite the efforts of first responders, authorities said Lily could not be revived.
“That’s going to be hard to not see that smile—that big, beautiful smile and those big, beautiful eyes of hers that lit up every time she would laugh,” Gina Philipps, who taught Lily at Milburn Public School, told reporters. "It was kind of hard not to love her. She always wanted hugs.”
Sadly, this is not the first time a child has died by electrocution from a clothes dryer—it's actually the third time in the past six months.
In April 2018, 10-year-old Fernando Hernandez Jr. from Houston, Texas, was electrocuted while playing hide-and-seek inside of a dryer.
Initially, investigators thought the boy might have suffocated inside the dryer, but appliance technician Donald Schatte told CBS 17 that the accident was more likely caused by faulty wiring.
“There are so many safety features. It has to be something to do with the wiring,” he said. "Some people don't repair their dryer properly—like a door switch goes bad, and when they open the dryer, as long as the timer is on, the machine is going to keep running."
Some people don't repair their dryer properly—like a door switch goes bad, and when they open the dryer, as long as the timer is on, the machine is going to keep running.
In July 2018, the parents of 10-year-old Greenlee Buckley—who was electrocuted by a dryer while looking for baby kittens—came forward to warn others about the dangers of the household appliance, stating they had experienced electrical issues in their rental before the incident.
"I had been shocked by the washer and shocked by the dryer, but in the back of my mind it was like a static electricity shock," Greenlee's mom, Shelby Roos, told ArkLaTex.
Greenlee's father, Scott Hendrix, added that the electric current was so powerful, it knocked him back when he grabbed the dryer to save her.
"Between adrenaline and panic, I grabbed the dryer out of the wall and got my little girl. She was already gone."
Dr. Danelle Fisher, chief of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Yahoo Lifestyle that washers and dryers come with other hidden dangers that parents aren't always aware of—like forming a seal when closed that could cut off the air supply if a child were to climb inside.
Fisher said that front-loading washers are particularly dangerous because they are easier for kids to open. “You really want to make sure kids aren’t able to do that,” she said. If your machine comes with a child safety lock—use it!
She also recommended installing machines flush against the wall, and having them regularly maintained by a technician.
“That’s really important,” Fisher said, adding that you should have your machines checked to make sure wires and vents are correctly adjusted and that wiring is not exposed.
It's also incredibly important that parents reinforce safety with their kids, letting them know that washers and dryers aren’t toys.
“They look like fun, and they want to try it,” Fisher said, “but laundry rooms should be an off-limits place. Kids should not be playing in there.”