Toddler Dies After Getting Into Dishwasher

Toddler's death in dishwasher highlights risks.

June, 2, 2007 — -- Arkansas police believe 18-month-old Clifton Kirk crawled into his family's dishwasher this past week -- and his brother, fascinated with the machine, then closed the door, restarting an already activated cycle.

Preliminary results show scalding water caused Kirk's death Wednesday.

"This is probably the hardest, most emotional scene that these investigators will ever work," said White County Sherriff's Deputy Chief Jeremy Clark.

As technology improves and becomes more convenient for adults, a hidden cost may exist for children.

"There's a difference between refrigerators and dishwashers," said Julie Valese of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "The refrigerator safety act put into place safeguards that if a child or person climbs inside a refrigerator, they must be able to get out. They must be able to push the door open from the inside. Dishwashers don't have that same precaution."

Valese said children are living an adult world, and what's convenient for adults isn't always safe for children.

Even so, Ali Swidler at NYKB Kitchens said safety precautions have come a long way since the electric outlet cover.

Microwaves and knives can be easily hidden in locked cupboards. Dishwashers can be disguised as cabinets. And with the touch of a button or a remote, mom or dad can control any appliance.

But the consumer product safety commission says in the end it all comes down to parental involvement.

"You should start teaching your children about where hazards exist." Valese said. "[Parents] need to understand that that's a place just filled with hazards and should constantly supervise their children."