Washing machines are a staple in modern households, offering convenience and efficiency.
However, it’s crucial to recognize that they are not without risks.
What are the hazards of washing machines? While they may seem harmless, washing machines can be particularly dangerous, especially for children.
Some of the most common washing machine accidents include:
- Children getting trapped in the washing machine
- Electrical shocks from faulty washing machines
- Burns from hot water or steam
- Injuries from sharp objects in the washing machine
- Water damage from overflowing washing machines
In this blog post, we will dive into these common washing machine accidents, go through some practical safety tips, and learn how to prevent washing machine accidents.
Table of Contents
Common Washing Machine Accidents
Children getting trapped in the washing machine and different types of child-related Incidents
One of the most alarming common washing machine accidents involves children getting trapped in the washing machine.
From time to time we keep hearing about cases related to children getting trapped inside the washer.
One such instance took place in Florida a few years ago where Florida where a three-year-old boy died after getting trapped in a front-loading washing machine.
The child was playing with a sibling when he entered the machine.
The Orlando Police Department stated that the boy was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital and was later pronounced dead.
Officials are still investigating how the door of the washing machine closed, either by the child himself or possibly by the sibling.
The incident has prompted authorities to educate parents about the dangers of letting children play with appliances like washing machines and dryers (1).
In September 2004, a 10-year-old girl in Oman found herself in a perilous situation.
She attempted to remove clothes from a spinning washing machine and ended up with a closed fracture of the radial and ulnar bones in her right forearm.
The injury was so severe that she had to be hospitalized for observation and eventually underwent closed intramedullary fixation to correct the bone position (2).
Another harrowing incident occurred when the glass door of a front-loader Beko washing machine exploded.
A young child, who often watched the machine, was severely injured.
The mother, who was nearby, heard a loud bang and found her child covered in shattered glass, sustaining deep lacerations on his face and hands.
The child was immediately rushed for surgery and the incident was described as a “freak accident” by experts, emphasizing the importance of child safety and first-aid knowledge.
It’s believed that foreign objects like coins can weaken the glass, leading to such accidents.
Therefore, parents are urged to keep children safe from washing machine accidents by keeping them away from the machines and avoiding overloading washing machines (3).
To protect your kids and pets you must ensure that you are childproofing your washing machine.
There is a detailed article that shows how you can babyproof your washing machine here.
Electrical Shocks from Faulty Washing Machines
Electrical safety is a significant concern when it comes to washing machines.
Faulty wiring, improper grounding, or malfunctioning components can lead to electrical shocks from washing machines.
Always ensure that your machine is installed by a qualified technician and undergoes regular maintenance checks to prevent such incidents.
Burns from Hot Water or Steam
Hot water cycles and steam features are common in modern washing machines, but they can also cause burns from washing machines.
Always be cautious when opening the washing machine immediately after a hot water or steam cycle.
Allow the machine to cool down before reaching in to avoid skin burns.
Injuries from Sharp Objects in the Washing Machine
Another overlooked hazard is injuries from sharp objects in the washing machine.
Items like pins, needles, or broken zippers can get caught in the drum and cause injury when you’re loading or unloading laundry.
Always check the drum carefully and remove sharp objects from the washing machine before starting a cycle.
Water Damage from Overflowing Washing Machines
A malfunctioning machine or a clogged drain can lead to water damage from overflowing washing machines.
This can not only damage your home but also create a slipping hazard.
Therefore, make sure to regularly inspect hoses and drains to prevent such incidents.
Damage to the Washing Machine from Overloading or Improper Use
Last but not least, improper use can lead to damage to the washing machine itself.
Overloading washing machines can strain the motor and other components, leading to premature wear and tear.
Always adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines on load size and types of fabric to ensure the longevity of your machine.
Specific Washing Machine Risks in Different Settings
What is the Most Common Injury Caused by Machines?
The most common injury caused by machines is laceration, which involves cuts and wounds to the skin. Other injuries caused by machinery malfunctions or misuse include broken bones, crushed hands or limbs, amputations, burns, and fractures.
How Do Risks Vary Between Top-Loading and Front-Loading Washing Machines?
Top-loading machines are generally less likely to trap children but are more prone to overloading. Front-loading machines, on the other hand, have risks associated with door glass shattering and children being more easily trapped.
Are Commercial Washing Machines Safer Than Residential Ones?
While commercial washing machines are designed for heavy-duty use and often come with advanced safety features, they are not necessarily safer than residential ones. These machines are built to handle larger loads and may operate at higher temperatures, which could increase the risk of burns from hot water or steam. Therefore, it’s crucial to follow all safety precautions outlined by the manufacturer, regardless of the type of machine you are using.
What are the Specific Risks Associated with Using Washing Machines in Laundromats?
Laundromats present a unique set of challenges. With multiple machines running simultaneously, the risk of electrical shocks and water damage from overflowing washing machines is heightened. Additionally, the public nature of laundromats means you have less control over machine maintenance and cleanliness, which could lead to other types of accidents or hygiene issues.
How Do the Risks Differ When Using Washing Machines in Industrial Settings?
In industrial settings, washing machines are often specialized to handle hazardous or heavy-duty materials. This introduces additional risks, such as chemical exposure or mechanical failures, that are less common in residential settings. Strict safety precautions and guidelines are usually in place, but the stakes are higher due to the nature of the materials being washed.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Using Second-Hand or Older Washing Machines?
Using second-hand or older washing machines comes with its own set of risks. These machines may lack modern safety features or could be nearing the end of their operational lifespan, increasing the likelihood of electrical shocks or mechanical failures. Always have a qualified technician inspect a second-hand machine before use.
How Do Water Quality and Electrical Supply Affect the Safety of Using Washing Machines?
Water quality and electrical supply can significantly impact washing machine safety. Poor water quality can lead to corrosion and machine failure, while an unstable electrical supply can result in electrical shocks. It’s essential to ensure that both water and electrical supplies are stable and of good quality to minimize risks.
Are There Any Additional Precautions to Take When Using Washing Machines in Shared Housing or Apartment Complexes?
In shared housing or apartment complexes, you may not be the only one using the washing machine, which could lead to varying levels of care and maintenance. Always inspect the machine for any visible damage or issues before use. Be mindful of water safety to prevent potential flooding that could affect other residents. It’s also a good idea to not leave your laundry unattended to minimize risks.
What are the Risks of Using Washing Machines in Outdoor or Non-Traditional Settings (e.g., RVs, Boats)?
Using washing machines in confined or non-traditional settings like RVs and boats presents unique challenges. Space constraints can make it difficult to properly ventilate the area, increasing the risk of electrical shocks. Additionally, these settings often rely on variable power sources, which can lead to unstable electrical supply and further elevate the risk of accidents.
Are There Any Geographical Factors That Influence the Risks of Using Washing Machines?
Yes, geographical factors can play a role in washing machine safety. For instance, areas prone to frequent power outages can increase the risk of electrical shocks due to sudden power resumption. Similarly, regions with water scarcity or poor water quality can lead to machine corrosion and water damage.
What are the Injuries of a Wringer Washer?
Wringer washers, though less common today, pose a unique set of risks. The most notable is the risk of entanglement or crushing injuries, particularly if one’s hand or clothing gets caught in the wringer. This can lead to severe injuries that require immediate medical attention.
How to Prevent Washing Machine Accidents?
Prevention is always better than cure, and when it comes to washing machine accidents, there are several safety precautions you can take:
- Keep children away from the washing machine when it is in use: This is crucial for child safety.
- Install a safety latch on the washing machine door: This can prevent children from opening the machine.
- Check the washing machine for any leaks or damage before using it: Early detection can prevent water damage and other issues.
- Do not overload the washing machine: Overloading can lead to mechanical failures.
- Use the correct amount of detergent: Excessive detergent can cause overflows and water damage.
- Remove sharp objects from the washing machine before washing: This minimizes the risk of injuries from sharp objects.
- Do not put flammable materials in the washing machine: This is crucial for flammable materials safety.
- Unplug the washing machine when not in use: This reduces the risk of electrical shocks.
- Do not ignore common problems as they can amplify: Addressing issues early can prevent more significant problems later.
- Babyproof or childproof your washing machine: Additional safety features can provide an extra layer of protection and there are many ways to childproof or babyproof a washing machine.
Can We Use Washing Machines Continuously?
While modern washing machines are designed for durability, using them continuously is not advisable. Doing so can lead to overloading and overheating, which can cause mechanical failures and increase the risk of common washing machine accidents. It’s essential to give your machine adequate rest between cycles and adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines for optimal performance and safety.
What Should You Avoid When Using a Washing Machine?
When using a washing machine, there are several things you should avoid to ensure safety:
- Do not leave the machine unattended: This can help you quickly address any issues that may arise.
- Avoid using extension cords: These can increase the risk of electrical shocks.
- Do not bypass safety mechanisms: Always use the safety latch for the washing machine and other built-in safety features.
- Avoid mixing different types of fabrics and items: This can lead to imbalances and overloading.
- Do not use more detergent than recommended: Excessive detergent can lead to water damage from overflowing.
Washing machines are incredibly convenient but come with their own set of risks, especially for children.
From electrical shocks to burns and water damage, it’s crucial to be aware of these common washing machine accidents and take the necessary safety precautions.
Whether you’re using a residential or commercial machine, in a traditional setting or a non-traditional one like an RV, how to prevent washing machine accidents should be a priority for everyone.
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