This month is the 25th anniversary of Baby Safety Month, and after a quiet run on the recall front (tomatoes/jalepenos notwithstanding), there's a new set of deadly concerns for caregivers. China is in a crisis over baby formula tainted with melamine that has killed several children and sickened scores more. A set of bassinets by Simplicity was recalled at the end of August because of infant deaths. And now there is a recall of a soccer net that can cause strangulation in young children.
The soccer net death story that NPR tells is extremely scary and gets more personal than most recall stories out there, which tend to be publicized through wonky recall reports from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CSPC). This isn't a story full of statistics or warnings, but the cautionary tale of a mother who lost her son in a horrible way when he got his head stuck in one of these nets (made by Regent Sports Corp.) The nets are made in China, but the defect seems to be that the grid on the net is in a 5-inch pattern, allowing for a small head to poke through, while nets with 4-inch openings are not in question.
Soccer goals under the brand names MacGregor and Mitre that have mesh grids spaced 5 inches apart -- sold in Walmart and Ace hardware stores -- are being recalled because of a toddler death. A small head can slip through the mesh and get caught.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Campbell Soup Asia Ltd. recalled 330,000 cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup and creamy chicken mushroom soup distributed in Hong Kong and Macau after a number of complaints that some cans emitted an "objectionable smell."
Kin Cheung, AP
General Motors announced a recall of about 300,000 Chevrolet HHR SUVs from the 2006-2008 model years on Sept. 8 to replace a latch that keeps a glove compartment box closed, in line with a federal safety standard.
GM / AP
General Motors recalled nearly 1 million vehicles in August because of a problem with the windshield wiper fluid system that could lead to a fire. The affected vehicles include the 2008 Buick Enclave, 2006-2008 Buick Lucerne, 2006-2008 Cadillac DTS, versions of the 2007-2008 Cadillac Escalade, above, 2007-2008 Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado, Tahoe and Suburban, 2007-2008 GMC Acadia, Sierra, Yukon and Yukon XL, 2006-2008 Hummer H2 and 2007-2008 Saturn Outlook.
Cadillac / AP
Several major retailers have recalled Simplicity 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 convertible bassinets because the products pose a strangulation hazard, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The recall affects about a million bassinets.
Consumer Product Safety Commission / AP
Nestle Prepared Foods Company recalled about 215,660 pounds of frozen stuffed pepperoni pizza sandwich products, known as Hot Pockets Pepperoni Pizza, because the product might contain small pieces of hard red plastic and other foreign material, which pose a risk of serious injury to consumers.
Ann Johansson, AP
BMW recalled the 2006 3 Series, the 2004-2006 5 Series, and the 2004-2006 X3 compact sport utility vehicle over concerns that the front passenger air bag may not deploy in a crash.
Steve Cannon, AP
In early Sept., Sony announced that it was recalling 440,000 Vaio laptop computers worldwide due to a wiring flaw that could cause overheating.
Koji Sasahara, AP
On the heels of the huge nationwide salmonella outbreak that caused more than 1,400 illnesses from Mexican peppers, a regional Oregon alfalfa sprout distributor has recalled its product in Oregon and Washington state after the sprouts were linked to 13 cases of salmonellosis.
Last summer the world was overtaken with news of Chinese toys and other products being recalled. There were shoddy tires, tainted toothpaste, tainted pet food, lead paint in toys, dangerous chemicals in Aqua Dots, hazards from magnets that could be swallowed and other manufacturing defects in products that could lead to burns, falls, entrapment and strangulation.
While some of the warnings and recalls seemed to be designed to remove any chance of human error -- please don't put those Bumbo baby seats on high surfaces -- most of the problems are due to design flaws and corruption in the supply chain. The Washington Post just detailed how some of these flaws come to light through the case of the bassinet recall. Some of this is China's fault and some of it isn't. But the fact that most of the children's products that we buy are manufactured in China says something about the oversight corporations are giving to these items.
The bottom line is that parents need to be extremely cautious about products they buy for their kids and to be vigilant about how these products are put into use. Becoming aware is the first line of defense, and there are tools on the web to help with that, such as a revamped microsite form Toys R Us on safety that is a clearinghouse for recall info and other news items. But as with the first step of baby-proofing, which is to get on your hands and knees and crawl around like a baby to see what they can reach -- you've got to get in the mindset of a kid and keep them safe from things that they can turn into weapons against themselves.