Safety alert: Childproofing household appliances to prevent deadly accident

How to avoid freezer, dryer, cooler and refrigerator entrapment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s a tragedy that is reaching far and wide as the investigation continues into the suffocation death of three young children in Suwannee County.

Deputies said a 6-year-old boy, a 4-year-old girl and a 1-year old girl were playing outside when they somehow climbed inside a chest freezer and became trapped.

READ MORE: 3 children trapped in freezer in Suwannee County die

The heartbreaking incident is shedding light on a safety alert from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The department has received reports of numerous suffocation deaths involving children between the ages of 4-7 who crawled inside latch-type freezers, clothes dryers, combination washer/dryer units, picnic coolers, ice boxes in campers, and old-style latch type refrigerators.

VIEW: Consumer Product Safety Commission Safety Alert

According to the CPSC, abandoned appliances are not the only items involved with accidents like these.

Entrapment deaths have been reported in products in use or stored in the kitchen, laundry room, basement, or garage. Deaths also have occurred in ice boxes located in campers parked outside the home.

-U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

To prevent another tragedy like this from happening, CPSC recommends parents:

  • Identify appliances or ice chests in your house, garage or recreational vehicles, which may present an entrapment hazard 
  • Childproof old-style refrigerators and other appliances which are to be discarded or are in storage. The surest method is to take off the door completely and in most cases this is a simple process using a screwdriver. It is unlawful in many local jurisdictions to discard old refrigerators without first removing the door.
  • Keep children away from old-style refrigerators, freezers, dryers or coolers still in use. Lock the door to your utility room and warn children not to play inside these appliances. 

The Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office said foul play is not suspected in this recent incident. The Florida Department of Children and Families has been notified and the case will be forwarded to the Third Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office for review.

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