Pompano Beach family offers warning after child gets stuck in cooler

POMPANO BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A Pompano Beach family is warning others of a potential safety hazard after their small child locked himself inside of a cooler.

Surveillance video from March 2 showed when 5-year-old Nicholas Wanes decided it would be fun to hide in the cooler.

“We had just come back from a day on the water, and we went into the house, unloaded everything. We left the cooler [outside] to dry,” Rob Wanes, Nicholas’ father, said.

For more than a minute, Nicholas was inside the cooler with the top cracked open. But eventually, the top drops and locks.

“When it got locked, I was scared,” Nicholas said. “Like, I thought I got locked in there forever. I didn’t notice that the lock closes automatically.”

The cooler is an IGLOO 72 qt. Marine Elite, and it has a latch that allows the user to secure it with a lock.

“It was an awful scream as if a child had fallen and gotten really hurt,” Rob Wanes said. “He was right here in the cooler, curled up on his back, and he was screaming, crying. We yanked him out.”

“We heard this muffled scream,” Maria Wanes, Nicholas’ mother, said. “We came running out, and you can tell where the scream was coming from. Finally, Rob turned and looked to the cooler, opened it up and he was in there.”

Fortunately for Nicholas, he was only in the cooler for a few seconds with the lid all the way down.

But, the Wanes family wants to make sure nothing like this happens to another child.

“So what he had done is he had climbed in the cooler, and [the latch was resting on the lock], and then in the video, you can see his tiny little fingers push [the latch] out, and now, he’s trapped inside,” Rob Wanes said.

Since the incident, Rob Wanes has removed the lock from the cooler so the cooler cannot lock and said that’s the only way they feel safe.

They have reached out to IGLOO and the store where they purchased the cooler.

“Every thought goes through your mind. ‘What if? What if? What if? What if I didn’t hear him? What if I was out front? What if I was upstairs? What if I was in the shower?’ I mean, that’s why we want to get this out there,” Maria Wanes said.

7News reached out to IGLOO, the store where the Waneses bought the cooler and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A representative for the company released a statement that read in part, “We are very sorry for the scare this incident must have caused the child and his family, and very happy no one was injured. We have contacted the family to express our apologies and communicate the following actions we have already taken.”

The statement included a list of actions the company has taken to prevent a similar incident from happening again:

  • We have immediately identified the product in question
  • Our engineering team has determined what could have been the cause of the incident – a performance issue with a latch on the cooler, with the ability to lock, if the user attached their own padlock or similar device
  • We have identified three other products with the same latch, with the potential to encounter the same issue
  • Our sales staff has identified all of the points of distribution of the four total products with the potential to experience a similar issue
  • We have issued a recall statement with the distributors of this product, and published it publicly on our web site
  • We have communicated our recall plan with the distributors that have sold these products
  • We have communicated our recall plan internally with our customer service team, so they can take action on behalf of customers that own one of the products

The statement additionally mentioned a voluntary recall for the Igloo® Marine Elite coolers made for boating applications, which have been sold through West Marine stores. Click here for more information on the recalled coolers.

The family hopes that other families will be aware that this incident could happen, and they also hope coolers like the one they own will eventually be made to be childproof.

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