On February 19, 2021, at around 5pm in Christchurch, New Zealand, a young child was found unconscious in a front-loading washing machine. Identified as a preschool-aged child, the young boy had been hiding inside the large appliance when it was turned on. It was only after a full wash cycle had finished when they noticed that the child was inside. Despite being taken to the hospital, the toddler died.  

This tragedy is not an isolated incident.  

In 2016, a little girl in Arkansas, USA, aged three years old, died after climbing into a washing machine. The lid closed, and the machine automatically started a wash cycle, drowning the young girl in the process.  

In 2017, twins from Delhi, India, drowned after falling into the open washing machine while their mother went out to buy detergent. The mom was gone for only six minutes.  

In 2018, a three-year-old boy in Poland was locked inside their washer while playing a game of hide-and-seek. He also died from suffocation.  

In 2019, another toddler in Orlando, Florida, died under similar circumstances: locked in a washing machine.   

Children are naturally curious, especially toddlers who are just learning how to explore the world. When you are curious, you find a lot of interesting things to do. And what may seem like a regular home appliance to an adult can be much more in the eyes of a child. A washer may seem like a giant space ship, a fun new toy, or a perfect hiding spot. Children can easily get inside a washer, especially with the door close to the floor. Even when a washer can’t be turned on, a closed lid could result in suffocation due to a lack of oxygen. With many machines set to automatically start a cycle, there is a high risk of drowning. These machines often close so tightly and securely with a thick lid that prevents any cries from coming through.  

While we cannot turn back time and save the young lives lost from these horrific home accidents, we can implement things to prevent this from happening in our own homes. Most modern washing machines have a child lock feature. For most brands, it keeps the lid closed, preventing children from getting in. It also keeps the panel buttons locked, making sure that their curious hands don’t change any of the machine’s settings. Despite most washing machines having these safety features, many people are unaware of it. Others can’t be bothered to use it – despite only taking a single push of a button to activate.  

How often do you use the child-lock feature on your washer?  

Besides activating this safety feature, other things you should do include locking the door to your laundry room, installing a childproof safety lock on your machine, and shutting off the water or power to the machine when not in use. Aside from the risk of playing with the washer, many kids have also been poisoned from laundry detergent intake – particularly detergent pods. Hundreds of children have been hospitalized after trying to eat a detergent pod. Two have died, a dozen have experienced seizures, and more than thirty have been put in a coma.   

Washing machines and laundry detergents are a necessity for maintaining a household. However, these regular items present a deadly risk to young children. The same goes for many other household products. Unfortunately, we can’t just throw anything that poses a threat out of our homes. But, we can make our home a safer environment for our children, seniors, pets, and ourselves.   

As part of our ProtectTheNHS Campaign, we’re sharing this HomeSafety App so you can spot the dangers in your home. Answering a few questions will help you know the potential hazards in your home and provide you with the solution to minimize these risks. The app is available and free to download on both the App Store and Playstore.   

We want to prevent these accidents from occurring.  


Minimize the risk in your own home.