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Toddler dies in washing machine accident

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Hidden dangers in the home

Parents are tuned into potential dangers around the house like chemical cleaners, swimming pools and a long flight of stairs -- but a washing machine can be just as dangerous.

A parenting rite of passage often includes taking a long, hard look at the home environment to determine possible dangers lurking under the roof. Sometimes, elaborate efforts are made to baby-proof the home to prevent accidents, injuries and deaths. Some parents even crawl around on the ground to get a baby's perspective of the pointy objects, drawers, cabinets and curtains. As valiant as these efforts may be, there's a danger many parents may overlook: the washing machine.

Tragic death

Recently, 21-month-old Ollie Hebb died in Oregon after climbing onto and falling into a running washing machine. His mother was nearby but unaware of the potential danger. When she realized her son had fallen into the washing machine, she, along with her neighbors, resuscitated the toddler but not before he suffered major brain damage. He was taken off life support the following day. This tragic event has rocked a family and has shed light on a serious danger.

Jennifer, a mom of two from Arizona says, "A washing machine? No. I've never considered it a potential hazard, but the death of that little boy definitely opens my eyes."

Dangers in your home for your newborn >>

Lurking dangers

If you think about it, the laundry room in general poses many risks to curious little kids. Aside from the washing machine, dryers can be dangerous especially if a child decides to crawl up into the drum. Laundry rooms also house a ton of chemicals like detergent, bleach and stain removers. In general, this entire room is not kid-friendly at all. Until children are old enough to actually help with the laundry, it's best to just keep them out of the laundry room.

Find out how to child-proof your home >>

Top hidden dangers

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the top five hidden dangers in the home include:

1

Magnets

Toys contain powerful magnets that often come loose, fall out and end up in our kids' mouths.
2

Recalled products

Sign up for CPSC's free email notifications to stay on top of recalled products.
3

Windows and coverings

Drapery cords and unsecure windows are huge hazards.
4

Pool and spa drains

Kids are no match for the powerful suction of the drain.
5

Furniture or televisions that can tip over

Be sure to secure all potential tip-over hazards to the wall.

Top hidden hazards in the home >>

Lesson learned

The family of the toddler who died wasn't aware of the danger of the washing machine. They felt safe in their own home but tragically realized that safety can sometimes be an illusion. Today, they are grieving the loss of their son and are on a mission to tell other parents about the deadly dangers of washing machines. "I want to make mothers and fathers aware that it's a possibility," says his mother, Tiffany Hebb.

More on keeping your kids safe

Baby-proofing tricks when you rent
Baby-proofing mistakes
Safety tips for kids with autism

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