Mitigating Hazards to Small Children from Front-Loading Washers and Dryers
Why it matters
Tending to laundry is an everyday household chore, but it still poses dangers and risks to small children.
When doing laundry, parents must be extra vigilant to ensure that little ones won’t crawl into, or behind the appliances. Front-loading washers and dryers, in particular, pose a safety risk for children due to the potential for accidental entrapment. Entrapment occurs when a small child climbs into an open washer or dryer and the door is closed. A sibling unaware of the danger or an unsuspecting adult may then operate the appliance with the entrapped child inside. These washer and dryer accidents can include lacerations, abrasions, fractures and even death.
Additionally, these appliances have posed a danger to children who wander behind the machines and contact hot plumbing parts or pull out the drainage hose or power cord. The drainage hose pumping out hot water after a cycle can fall out of the standpipe if a baby tugs with enough strength, causing scalding injury.
What we're doing
Our Standards help to mitigate these risks by requiring necessary safety systems. UL 2157, the Standard for Electric Clothes Washing Machines and Extractors, and UL 2158, the Standard for Electric Clothes Dryers, both specify the maximum amount of force needed to open doors from the inside, which allows a child to break free if he or she should become entrapped. They also introduce built-in child lock features on control panels, which require deliberate operation and prevent a child from turning on a unit if he or she climbs into the appliance. Additionally, the Standards require protection against accessibility to current-carrying parts to prevent electric shock, as well as temperature limits for touchable surfaces to prevent burns.
How you can help
Our Standards are developed through a consensus-based process, which integrates scientific and testing expertise with input from our Technical Committee (TC) members and stakeholders. TC members represent a variety of interests, including industry, academia, government, retail and manufacturing. If you are involved in the design, construction, sale or operation of household appliances, and you would like to help improve safety in your industry, please take a moment to learn how you can get involved.