6-year-old Wisconsin girl likely electrocuted, hair dryer found in bathtub

9:37 PM, Nov 30, 2007   |    comments
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The death of a 6-year-old girl in a bathtub offers a sad lesson about the dangers of using electrical appliances near water, officials say. Chelsea Joe "Princess" Helland was found with a hair dryer in the water-filled tub, and a medical examiner's report shows a high probability she died from electrocution, said interim Police Chief Eric Atkinson. Emergency personnel responded to the apartment complex in Hudson, Wisconsin around 7 p.m. Sunday. According to police, the mother told officers the girl and her 2-year-old sister were in the tub when the mother left the room briefly. When she saw the toddler was out, she went to check on the other girl and found her unresponsive in the bathtub with the hair dryer. The mother, her boyfriend, paramedics and police officers tried to revive the girl, but she was prounounced dead at Hudson Hospital. Atkinson said he thinks a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) installed in the outlet or contained in the dryer would have prevented the tragedy. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a GFCI in a home wiring system constantly monitors the flow of electricity and instantly switches off power if there is any loss of current. That way, it can prevent a person from getting a lethal dose of electricity. "I believe that if there would have been a GFCI outlet or mini-GFCI in the hair dryer, we wouldn't be where we are today," Atkinson said. The girl's funeral was scheduled Friday in White Bear Lake, Minn.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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