Mini Mayhem: Childproofing Tips For Your Home Appliances

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We love our kids, but they can be tough to keep away from dryers, washing machines, dishwashers, ovens and ranges. Here are some ways to prevent them from damaging your appliances.

While we love our children unconditionally, it’s likely our appliances don’t feel quite the same way. That’s because our wee companions don’t always have the best handle on how to handle our, well, our handles. So how can parents safeguard their appliances from the kiddos?

The answer is to lock them out by child proofing kitchen appliances. Yup, you heard us right!

How’d That Get in There?

Mike Showalter, field support engineer for Sears Home Services, was a service technician for 17 years. In that time, he handled a number of child-related service calls, but the one that stands out the most in his mind was for a dryer that was under warranty that was staining the clothing with rust.

“When I opened the dryer’s door I noticed that the inside of the front door panel was rusted and had scratches going through the paint down to the metal,” Showalter says.

That’s when the family’s 5-year-old son came into the room, confessing that he had put the dog in the dryer, which caused the scratches. Luckily, the dog was not hurt, but the whole problem could have been avoided had the owner used the lockout feature.

On many washers, dishwashers and, yes, dryers, there’s a feature called child lock, Showalter says. “When activated, it will lock the control panel so that little ones will not be able to start the machine.”

The Most Dangerous Appliances for Kids?

The lockout feature is especially important for the home appliance that can be the scariest for parents with small children: the oven. Many ovens and ranges have a child-proof oven lock feature, too.

“The control lockout feature prevents children from turning the unit on and locks the oven door,” says Billy Ganem, cooking field support engineer with Sears Home Services.

From children using the doors as a diving board, to turning them on and burning themselves, teaching your children the importance of staying away from the oven and stovetop is the best thing to do along with child proofing home appliances.

That’s Not a Seat — or a Jungle Gym

But we all know that kids like to use appliances for jungle gyms. In fact, if your dishwasher suddenly isn’t closing or has sprung a leak, your pint-sized mischief-makers could be to blame.

“On dishwashers, the most common repair caused by kids was from them sitting on the door when it’s in the down position,” Showalter says. The hinges bend, and the machine doesn’t close property.

“When you close the door with damaged hinges, the door will normally not seal properly and could cause a leak,” he says.

The good news is that your dishwasher can almost always be fixed by replacing the hinges.

Adventurous climbers can cause damage as well, especially on your fridge.

“Younger children will sometimes pull on the refrigerator shelves or stand on the bottom shelf to get what they want,” says Don Hoyt , refrigeration field support engineer at Sears Home Services.

This could result in anything from broken shelves and drawers to loosened freezer handles.

Want to stop kids from climbing on your appliances? “Keep items for children in the refrigeration section as low as possible and to the front,” Hoyt suggests.

Thanks for the great ideas, Sears Appliance Experts! Now if we could only get them to babysit.