Toddler trapped in hotel safe thanks to game gone wrong

Aug 21, 2015 at 12:45 p.m. ET
Image: Brian Phillpotts/Getty Images

Staying in a hotel while traveling is often a fun adventure for children, but as one New Jersey family recently found out, there are some not-so-fun dangers lurking within the rooms.

It happened during a trip to Niagara Falls. The kids, ages 3 and 11, started a game of hide-and-seek. Someone decided the safe meant to hold valuables was the perfect spot to hold a hiding toddler, so in the kid went. The door closed, locked and... oops.

Fortunately the family was able to have the hotel send a maintenance worker up to the room, and after about 20 minutes of work (and of crying), the toddler was freed from the safe. She wasn't hurt, as the safe either wasn't airtight or contained plenty of oxygen for a tiny person stuck inside for less than half an hour.

It's great that everything ended well, but it is a good warning for parents about hotel room safes. It's fairly simple to accidentally set up the electronic lock and password. In most cases, all that's required is punching in a four- or five-digit code, which is pretty easy to do even if you're too young to actually know your numbers yet.

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No parent wants to be put in the unpleasant position of having to track down maintenance staff at some random hour of the day or night to spring a child stuck in a safe — or for that matter, a phone, wallet or other important object placed inside by a "helpful" toddler who then key-smashes an entry code that you will never be able to guess. Also, while this safe seemed to have enough air for the child to not be harmed while inside, there's no guarantee that others won't be airtight.

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If you're traveling with small children, the best plan is to set the safe combination with something memorable as soon as you arrive in your room. Most electronic safes don't let you use 1-2-3-4 as a combination, unfortunately, but you can always plug in your child's birthday or your own. And do it before Junior can set it with something no one will be able to figure out and before any of your valuable objects (or children) disappear.

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