By Diana Barkey
One of the most important jobs as a parent is keeping your child safe. Reading up on the crucial subject of car seat safety is an effective way to keep your child safe inside a moving vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator (NHTSA) estimates that a properly installed car seat lowers a child’s risk of death by a shocking a shocking 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers.
Since 1975, approximately 8,000 children ages 1 to 5 have been saved due to car seats. Thousands of children are injured or killed each year from car accidents. These statistics prove that keeping children safe inside a car is extremely important.
Everybody loves to get hand me downs when they have children. However, are car seats an acceptable hand me down to use? Sometimes car seats fail to protect children if the car seat has been in an accident, haven’t been properly taken care of or if the car seat is expired.
Typically in the United States car seats expire after six years but some expire anywhere from five to nine years. A great tip to remember is that the car seat expires from the time it was manufactured, not to be confused with the date the car seat was purchased.
Every car seat is different so be sure to read the user guide to find the expiration date. If for some reason the user guide has been misplaced, there will most likely be an expiration date stamped on the base of the car seat.
Car seats expire due to the fact that safety standards in the United States change over time. This is because as new and safer technology is developed, the old ones are dismissed. Secondly, the materials the seat is made from wear down. For example, the elasticity in a seat belt can potentially decrease if use is continued after a serious car accident or after the expiration date. Finally, car seats are only tested for a certain amount of time. Manufacturers do not test how well old car seats work in a serious accident.
A main concern for parents is the price of car seats and how to maintain up to date ones on a low budget. To save money, do not be fooled by the price tag. All car seats must be approved by the United States current car seat standards. If a more inexpensive seat is purchased, it won’t necessarily put your child in more danger than an expensive car seat would. Also, more expensive car seats don’t always have a longer life expectancy.
Ask yourself questions such as, “Has this car seat been in an accident?” “Are the labels still attached?” “Has this car seat been recalled?” and “Is this car seat expired?” Taking all of these questions into consideration will keep your children safer while in a vehicle.
Diana Barkey is in the early childhood program at Ferris State University.