After a 3-year-old boy died inside a front-loading washing machine in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend, police are asking parents to take precautions to keep young children safe.
It appears the child, whose name has not been released, was playing with a sibling when he climbed into the machine, according to Cory Burkarth, the public information officer for the Orlando Police Department.
Police believe that the door closed and created an airtight seal inside the drum of the washing machine.
"We are currently investigating this tragic death as an accidental death," Burkarth told TODAY in a statement. "... While inside the drum of the washing machine, we believe the child may have died due to a lack of oxygen."
Burkarth said that while investigators will look at the specific model of the washing machine to determine what exactly happened, it's important for parents to make sure their children know to be careful around front-loading washers.
"From a safety standpoint, this heartbreaking case should serve as a reminder to parents and adults out there about speaking to their children about the dangers of appliances," he said. "When I was a kid, washers and dryers were white and they didn't look cool. But today, washing machines come in multiple colors like red, blue, black, stainless steel and they have buttons that light up, make cool sounds, and have clear see-through windows. So to a young child, they look like a fun piece of equipment and often will want to play on or in them."
Burkarth said that parents should make sure that any friends, family members or babysitters who take care of their children know about the risks of washing machines.
It helps to lock the doors to laundry rooms with a childproof handle, he said. Burkarth also recommended making sure that the machines are kept closed so that small children aren't able to reach up and open them.
"No family should have to experience what this family is currently going through so we're asking parents to use this (as) a teaching lesson for their own children," Burkarth said.