September 16, 2008 – The strangulation death of a 20-month-old child in the netting of a soccer goal has sparked the recall of 190,000 folding nets sold over the past six years under the brand names MacGregor and Mitre.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received two reports of head entanglement in the netting, including the boy who died. The openings in the netting are too large and thus pose a hazard. “Parents should take action immediately,” said the CPSC's Scott Wolfson.
According to a report on National Public Radio, the boy was killed after he climbed on the goal and fell through the mesh. The cords contracted around his neck and his mother was unable to save him. “The opening that these nylon mesh nets have is simply too big,” said Wolfson. “There needs to be a 4-inch space, but there's a 5-inch space.”
Both of the goals in today's recall have a foldable white frame with a white net that is attached by Velcro strips. When upright, the MacGregor goal measures 6-feet-wide by 3-feet-high and the Mitre net measures 8-feet-wide by 6-feet-high. The MacGregor soccer goal has model number 97236 printed on the assembly instructions and UPC code number 029807972365 printed on the net’s packaging. The Mitre soccer goal has model number 89186 printed on the assembly instructions and UPC code number 029807891864 printed on the net’s packaging. Nets manufactured after April 2007 with 4-inch by 4-inch square openings are not included in the recall.
The recalled nets were sold at Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware, and sports and toy stores nationwide from May 2002 through May 2008 for $26. The CPSC is asking consumers to stop using the recalled soccer goals immediately, remove the nets and return them to Regent Sports, the distributor, for a free replacement net. For instructions, contact Regent Sports at (800) 516-9707 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
The bigger hazard with soccer goals is tip-over, not strangulation. The CPSC has long warned parents about the hazards of movable soccer goals that can topple over and kill or injure children who climb on them or hang from the crossbar. The hazard they present is different from the one cited in today's recall and perhaps more deadly. There are at least 500,000 such goals in use in the U.S. Just last week a 10-year-old Arizona boy was killed and his friend injured when a goal post at their elementary school fell on top of them. The CPSC is investigating that incident, says Wolfson.
The CPSC reports that there have been at least 28 deaths—almost all children—since 1979 from movable goals falling over. “The greatest number of deaths related to soccer has to do with this type of goal,” says Wolfson. Anchored for Safety, a group that advocates for soccer goal safety, puts the number at 35 deaths and 52 injuries since 1979 and tracks the incidents on its Web site.
Movable goals can topple if they aren't anchored properly. In fact, a few of the fatalities occurred when a gust of wind blew the goal over. Most, however, happened when someone climbed on the goal or tried to hang from the crossbar. Recognizing the danger, ASTM, the standard setting group, recently published tougher, voluntary standards to help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries from soccer goal tip-overs and pull-overs.
Parents should be on the lookout for goals that may be improperly anchored or counter-balanced at their child's school, field, or playground. The CPSC offers the following tips to avoid soccer goal tip-overs.
Always instruct soccer players on the safe handling of and potential dangers associated with movable soccer goals.
Use movable soccer goals only on level (flat) fields.
Check all connecting hardware before every use.
Replace damaged or missing fasteners immediately.
Ensure safety labels are clearly visible.
Remove nets when goals are not in use.
Anchor or chain goals to nearby fence posts, dugouts, or similar sturdy fixtures when not in use.
Fully disassemble goals for seasonal storage.
Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.