A 4-year-old girl in Oklahoma has died after she was electrocuted by her family’s clothes dryer.
Lily Minyard went behind the dryer while trying to get to a puppy that was stuck and was electrocuted when she touched a bare spot on an electrical wire that led to the dryer, officials told WAFF. She was taken to the hospital but could not be revived.
In the past few months, several other children have been electrocuted by dryers. Fernando Hernandez Jr., 10, of Houston was accidentally electrocuted while playing hide-and-seek inside a dryer, KTRK reports. “My boyfriend picked him up and brought him into the house,” his mother, Christina Rodriguez, told the news outlet. “He was purple, and his eyes were open, and he was gone.”
And Greenlee Buckley, 10, was also electrocuted by her family’s dryer while trying to find some baby kittens that had gotten trapped behind the appliance. “There was enough electricity when I grabbed the dryer that it knocked me back,” her father, Scott Hendrix, told ArkLaTex in Shreveport, La. “And, between adrenaline and panic, I grabbed the dryer out of the wall and got my little girl. She was already gone.”
There are two main concerns with washers and dryers: electrocution and suffocation, Danelle Fisher, MD, chief of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Washers and dryers actually have some dangers affiliated with them that people don’t always think of,” she says. Not only can children be electrocuted by faulty wiring, but washer and dryer doors can also form a seal and close off a child’s air supply if they’re inside, Fisher notes.
“Front loaders are dangerous because the kids can climb inside,” she says. “You really want to make sure kids aren’t able to do that.” If your dryer comes with a child safety lock, it’s important to use it, Fisher says.
“You also want to make sure your machine is flush against the wall,” she adds. “Also, have your washer and dryer regularly maintained. That’s really important.” When someone comes out to look at your machines, make sure the wires and vents are correctly adjusted and there is no exposed wiring, suggests Fisher.
Finally, it’s important to talk to your kids about washer and dryer safety. “Kids should always be taught that washers and dryers are not toys,” Fisher says. “They look like fun, and they want to try it, but laundry rooms should be an off-limits place — kids should not be playing in there.”
You don’t need to get into graphic details about what could happen to your child, but they do understand the simple phrase “You can get hurt,” Fisher says. Ultimately, “it’s incredibly important to make sure that parents reinforce to kids this is not a place to play,” she says.