Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Keep your eyes open: Children playing

When my children were younger I was a very paranoid mother. If they got out of my sight for even a second I panicked. Visions of horrendous accidents filled my head and wouldn’t leave until I found whichever child was missing.

My paranoia didn’t end there. I completely baby proofed my house. I had plastic covers on all the outlets. I kept all the chemicals locked up in a cabinet that was well out of their reach. I wouldn’t even keep our medications in the medicine cabinet. They were stored on the top shelf of our bedroom closet in a box. Like I said, I was paranoid.

When Christina was around 4 we got a great deal on one of those old International Harvester refrigerators. You know the ones. The have a big latch on the front that locks into place. I think it was made around 1947.

It was a monster refrigerator. That scared me. I remembered something about the company no longer making them because of the dangers of people being trapped inside. Specifically I remembered that if you wanted to take your old I.H. refrigerator to the dump you were required to remove the door. There was no way to open it from the inside unlike modern day refrigerators that can just be pushed open.

The idea that my child could get inside and be trapped wouldn’t leave my head. Eventually I bought a padlock and kept the refrigerator locked at all times. Everyone thought it was a big pain but it made me feel better.

I had actually forgotten all about that old refrigerator and my fears that went with it until I came across a heartbreaking story out of California while reading my morning news today. It involved both a 4 year old and an appliance.

The girl and her 15 month old brother were playing. For some reason the 4 year old decided to climb into a front loading washing machine. Then her brother turned it on. Tragically the girl died.

Her mother found her in the running, water filled washing machine around 2 minutes later. The spokesman for the Orange County sheriff’s office said that the switch to start the machine was a simple push button. They have ruled it an accidental death.

I can not even begin to imagine what that mother is feeling right now. I believe I would have trouble even going on. It would have that profound of an effect on me.

And I never even thought about front loading washing machines being a danger. When I’ve gone to laundrymats, I’ve seen children running around and playing. I’ve even seen them stick their heads into the washers. It never crossed my mind that they would think it was a good place to get inside. I don’t know why I didn’t think that. It’s natural behavior for children to be curious. And I think those years between 1 and 6 are the most curious. They don’t have fear yet. They just want to see what’s in there. Or what that does.

I’m just so sorry for that California family. I wish this didn’t happen. But because it has I’m now looking at washing machines in a different light. Maybe the appliance manufacturers need to see them in a different light too. Maybe they need to look at their products and reevaluate their safety features so no further tragedies occur.


morrow said...

I will have to get a top loading one when I get a house now. I would be like you worrying about the refrigerator. And I SO understand the padlock.

My partner wanted to buy a house with spiral staircase (old one without sides). What was even worse was that underneath the staircase was the steep stairs that went to the basement - right underneath. There was no door to the basement just stairs going down.

He says to me, I dont understand what they big deal is about the stairs.

Two days later, my daughter dislocated her elbow falling off our bed.

I could not relax in such a house with such stairs.

No way.

♥ Kathy said...

That would scare me too morrow. No way would I be able to relax with those stairs either. This story just broke my heart.

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