Is Your Child Safety Seat Safe?
How can you tell if your child safety seat is safe?
Make sure that the expiration date stamped on the plastic has not passed and it has never been used in a crash. You can’t be sure about the history of a used seat unless you got it from a friend or relative. You will need the detailed instruction booklet (it can be ordered from the manufacturer if it is missing) to check that the seat has all of its parts and to find out how to use it correctly. Check for possible damage, such as cracks in the plastic, frayed straps, stiff buckles or harness adjusters. If the safety seat passes all of these criteria, you still need to check for possible recalls.
What is a child safety seat recall?
Just like cars and other products, a safety seat may be “recalled” because of a defect that could injure your child. Manufacturers are required to fix the problem free of charge. If your seat is recalled, be sure to get it fixed right away.
Does the child safety seat have to be sent back?
Not usually. Most problems can be fixed by replacing a part that the manufacturer will send you for free. Sometimes, with an older seat or when the company is out of business, you will need to take it to a special recycling center (go to www.carseat.org/recycling_la.html for more info) or, if none is available in your area, destroy the seat to make sure it is not picked up by someone and used by another child. Break it with a sledgehammer, crush it, or take it completely apart and mark it “not for use as a safety seat” before throwing it away wrapped securely in a heavy trash bag.
Should I keep using a recalled child safety seat?
Many defects are minor, but some are quite serious. All problems should be corrected as soon as possible. Unless you have another seat, you should go on using the recalled one while you are waiting for the repair kit. Using a recalled safety seat almost always is safer than letting your child ride in a safety belt only.
How to check your child safety seat for recalls
1. Look up the name of the manufacturer.
2. Look up the name of your specific model. Important: the model name may not be found anywhere on the seat, and many safety seats have similar model names. Some rear-facing-only seats are sold as a part of a stroller system. Since stroller model names are not included on this list, it is necessary to determine the name of the corresponding rear-facing-only seat to be sure all recalls and warnings have been found. Some manufacturers have style names (i.e., Oshkosh, Disney characters, etc.) sewn on the fabric or used in promotional materials. These names are used for more than one product and cannot be used to determine whether or not the seat has a recall. If you are not sure of the exact name of your seat, check the Color Pictorial Guide to Child Restraints (you may order a hard copy or license to print from SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.) or contact the manufacturer or SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. to help you identify it.
3. If you are sure of the EXACT name of your seat, you are ready to look it up on the recall list. Every model certified by the manufacturer to meet U.S. safety standards and made within the last 10 years is on this list, either with a recall or under the “no recall” section at the end of each manufacturer’s section.
4. If your model has a recall listed, you need to compare the date of manufacture of your particular seat with the dates affected by the recall. The date is computer-generated on a paper sticker attached to the side or the back of the seat. Disregard dates on tags attached to the fabric cover or pre-printed in the corner of certification or instruction labels. For some recalls, you also will need to check the model number, which is found on the same sticker as the date. If the date sticker is missing or the date is not clearly marked, assume that all possible recalls apply to your seat. Even if no recall applies, do not use a seat if it has passed its expiration date (specified by the manufacturer in the instruction booklet, usually 4 to 10 years from the date of manufacture), which usually is stamped into the plastic shell.
Special Features of the SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.
List of Recalls and Replacement Parts for Child Restraints
1. New recalls are added to this list as soon as they can be verified. Recall Update Service subscribers receive notification by e-mail. To verify that a printed copy of this list is current, go to www.carseat.org and open the Login page if you are a member/subscriber. Families and caregivers find the list on the Family page.
2. Voluntary customer notification campaigns, special warnings, and additional replacement parts available from manufacturers are included on the list. Some of these are not widely announced and are provided for the benefit of parents and child restraint checkers. The bracketed phrase [Not publicized] indicates usage advice or repair kit availability that has been verified with but not announced by the manufacturer. If a child restraint with one of these problems or any defect which has not been recognized with an official recall is found, it is important to notify officials responsible for defect investigations. To report a defect, call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at 888-327-4236 or 800-424-9393 or go to http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq.
3. Recall wording, including manufacturer contact information, has been clarified and updated. The “Problem” is described clearly and briefly. The wording under “Action Needed” is based on current information supplied by the manufacturer instead of the original recall notice, which may contain ambiguous or obsolete information.
4. Model names are listed alphabetically. For ease of use and accuracy, all recalls are grouped by the model name of the restraint. Model numbers are also listed, if provided by the manufacturer.
5. All child restraint models made in the past 10 years, with or without a recall, are listed (models without a recall are at the end of each manufacturer’s section). If the model name is not found on the list, the child restraint should not be used.
SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.•P.O. Box 553, Altadena, CA 91003