Aussie nurse’s grave warning on why you should always shut washing machine door

Aussie nurse’s grave warning on why you should always shut washing machine door
  • PublishedMay 12, 2024

‘I have nightmares about this.’

A nurse has warned parents of the little-known dangers of keeping the washing machine door open in between washes as they try to minimise mould growth.

Paediatric nurse Sarah Hunstead, who runs Australia’s children’s safety page CPR Kids, urged everyone to keep the door to front loaders shut at all times — especially if there are young kids at home.

“We recently saw some (social media) posts circulating in mum groups about keeping front loader washing machines open to prevent mould. It’s common advice,” she said.

“But if you have little ones at home, keep them shut.

“It can be a nuisance having to clean the mould or find alternatives in preventing mould build-up, but keeping the machine open can be a hazard.

“Infants have been trapped in front loaders that were left unlocked, resulting in close calls and, sadly, tragedies.”

If you do need to leave the door open, she suggested making the laundry inaccessible to kids.

Her post has been viewed more than 23,700 times, with one mum confessing: “I have nightmares about this, hence why I stuck with a top loader”.

Many parents revealed how they baby-proofed their laundry area to keep kids out.

“We installed a lock on the laundry door so our daughter can’t get in there at all because she’s obsessed with the washing machine,” one said.

Another wrote: “We have a baby-proof door lock on our laundry door for this reason”.

One mum asked at what age should she stop worrying about her child climbing into the washer.

“There’s no hard and fast rule,” the nurse replied, “Either when you are confident your kids understand to never go inside the machine or are too big to do so.”

Others warned how pet dogs or cats can also climb into washing machines, leading to accidents or even tragedies.

Back in February 2021, a New Zealand dad found his preschool-aged daughter inside a running front-loading washing machine — after she was missing for 10 minutes.

Attempts were made to resuscitate the young girl — but she died in hospital.

Australian nurse Sarah Hunstead, left, and US emergency doctor Joe Whittington, right.
Australian nurse Sarah Hunstead, left, and US emergency doctor

American emergency doctor Joe Whittington has also warned parents how front loaders are “very dangerous” for children.

“The problem is, the lid would lock into place when a cycle is activated, thereby preventing somebody on the inside from getting out,” he has said.

“Sometimes what can happen is children will play with the buttons, get in, close the door and therefore activate a cycle.”

Dr Whittington said in some cases, parents will have a preset setting on the cycle times, so a child could “climb in at the wrong time”.

“Even if the tub does not fill with water, they can become deprived of oxygen,” he said.

“Also their yells for help will be muffled inside the machine.”

He urged everyone to stay on top of the child lock feature on their machines.

“You should learn how to use the child lock feature on your washing machine that locks the lid in place unless you’re going to use the machine,” he said.

“This should send a warning to all parents about washing machines.”


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