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Oregon Family Magazine

Car Seat Safety

12/01/2019 09:42 ● By Sandy Kauten
During a recent car seat inspection at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho, two Certified Car Seat Technicians identified several brand new car seats that were missing crucial safety features. The parents, who bought their car seats new via online vendors, were shocked.

With online shopping as popular as ever, how can parents be sure that they are purchasing a safety tested, certified car seat for their baby? One option is to take advantage of your local Car Seat Clinics!

Car Seat Clinics Benefit Everyone 

It’s never too early or too late to attend a car seat clinic. If you have a baby on the way, you can bring you car seat to a clinic and a technician will help you properly install it, as well as check for any defects, recalls, or other safety issues. A technician will also talk to you about proper positioning of baby, where the straps should be placed, etc.

If you have a toddler or young child in a booster seat, be sure to bring them along to a car seat clinic. Just as with infant seats, a technician will be able to double check your child’s car seat for safety features, defects, or recalls. A technician can also advise you on whether your toddler should be rear-facing or forward facing, as well as when it’s time to move them from a convertible car seat to a high-back with a 5-point harness.

Become a Smart Consumer

After a little digging, the two Idaho Car Seat Technicians discovered that counterfeit and knock-off brand car seats are being sold on third-party sites such as Amazon and Walmart.com. With the staggering number of online shopping sites, you have to take extra precautions when purchasing safety equipment for your child.

Keep in mind that no  car seat brand is the “best” or the “safest,” states the American Academy of Pediatrics. The best seat is the one that fits your child’s size, fits well in your vehicle, and can be used properly every time your drive. Here are some other points to consider:

• Buy a new car seat whenever possible.

• Expensive does not always equal better quality.

• If you purchase a used car seat: avoid expired or recalled seats, or one that has been in a car accident. The car seat must have all its parts and readable labels and instructions.

• To check for recalls, check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls

• If at all possible, purchase your car seat directly from the manufacturer.

Where To Go and Who To Call

If you have any questions or concerns about your child's car seats, don't hesitate to call or Parenting Now! to make an appointment with one of our own Car Seat Technicians. You can also attend one of Parenting Now!’s drop-in, free monthly car seat clinics listed at https://parentingnow.org/parents/car-seat-inspections/. In partnership with Safe Kids West Oregon, PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center, and the Eugene Springfield Fire Station No. 2 host free car seat clinics. More information about those clinics can be found at: https://www.peacehealth.org/2019-car-seat-check-clinics.

Parenting Now!, formerly Birth To Three, is a private, non-profit organization that provides parenting education and support to families with young children.