Orlando, FL (WESH ) — Orlando police said a 3-year-old died after climbing into a washing machine and getting trapped inside.
WESH 2 News spoke with washing machine experts about what a parent can do to keep their child safe around a washing machine.
Police believe the little boy who died inside the machine ultimately died of suffocation.
It happened at a home on Lake Como Circle.
Investigators say the boy was playing with his younger sibling in the laundry room when, on his own, he climbed inside a front loading washing machine.
“At some point in the process, the door closed. Either he pulled it shut himself, or maybe the sibling closed it. That’s something we’re still looking at. And also, when that door closed, did it create an air-tight seal and deprive the child of oxygen?” said Cory Burkarth, of the Orlando Police Department.
Investigators do not believe the washing machine was ever operating with the boy inside and say they are still investigating how long he was trapped. They say at least one parent was home at the time and that the tragedy was a terrible accident.
“It’s awful. With a 16-month-old at home, it just hit particularly close to home,” said Jeff Jaskot, of Aggressive Appliances.
Jaskot is one of the owners of Aggressive Appliances, and is intimately familiar with front loading washers.
He does not know of a front loading washing machine that offers an option to lock the door when it’s not in operation, but he points out that a parent can at least lock the control pad and prevent the machine from operating.
“What that does is, even if the machine is open and a child were, a pet, anything, were to crawl inside, that’s something that will keep any of the other buttons from being activated,” he said.
As for keeping a child from getting inside a washing machine, police say the best advice may be restricting access to the washer.
“If you have your laundry room as its own separate room with a door and handle, put a child-proof handle on it, a child-proof lock,” Burkarth said.
Police are not yet revealing the model of the washing machine involved.
Police said they are aware of three deaths among children ages 5 and younger since 2014, related to washing machines, and at least two of those involved front loaders.