Friday, October 7, 2011

Is Your Car Seat Expired? How to Tell and What To Do Next

Did you know that infant/ child car seats EXPIRE? I didn't until I attended a free car seat inspection at my local fire station. I had always wondered about Little Big Stuff's infant seat even back when it used to be Sassy Britches'. I receive it brand new at my baby shower when I was carrying her. It was one of the newer marketed models.

Anyhow, the volunteers from the Florida Highway Patrol looked over both of the girls' seats. Sassy Britches' booster seat passed with flying colors and I received praise for having her in booster since they see far too many children her age without any type of booster, just sitting in the backseat regularly. But Little Big Stuff's seat failed on a couple levels. One being that the shoulder restraint straps started behind her shoulders and then went up and over them. The seat did not offer any additional holes to move the straps up so she was already too tall for the seat. Seconds, the warning stickers on the seat were being to peel and fade. They prefer all stickers remain visible and attached to the seat. And lastly, the seat was nearing its expiration date.

If you check the underneath side of your car seat, you will be able
to see when your car seat expires. Mine only had about 14 months left,
as it's expiration date clearly shows December of 2012 but mine was considered unsafe
for Little Big Stuff because of her height and that the shoulder straps did not fit her properly.
There was no way this car seat could hold her for the next year, since it is now recommended that
children be rear facing until the age of 2- she barely fit in it now! And also since the life span of
this car seat was coming up so soon (car seats usually have a "lifespan" of 5-6 years max), I was
not comfortable risking someone else receiving this car seat and then not replacing it before the seat expired. 
Expiration date? Car seats have expiration dates??? This was new to me. The wonderful woman went on to explain that car seats have expiration dates because materials over time break down. A car seat that is old or has been involved in a crash can weaken, making it more likely it will be faulty in a future car accident. This is also why it is always best to buy a car seat new, never used (same for cribs) as you wan to be able to  be able to know of any recalls and have all the model information available, and know its accident history (which if new is never, unless you are the one involved). She also explained that technology improves and standards change. In fact, just the standard of having kids remain rear facing until 2 years of age was a new standard that was never the case before. 
Another view of where you can look for the expiration date.
Mine was found underneath the car seat, below the crotch latch
adjuster. I had no idea car seats expired let alone where to find when mine did!
So it was highly recommended that I get Little Big Stuff into a new car seat ASAP. She even told me that a neighboring county gives these car seats out for free (my county only offers discounts on them). So we arranged to meet up in her county, about 45 minutes away, to get the new seat. She explained there is also a proper way to dispose of them which includes cutting all straps and removing the seat cover- making the car seat useless to anyone who might attempt to pick it up and salvage it. We don't want anyone, unacknowledged about the dangers of used car seat making these life threatening mistakes. The pics below show how I disposed of my car seat. Photographing it also gave me a bit of closure, saying goodbye to the very car seat that brought both of my beautiful babies home safely from the hospital and survived the leaky diapers, spit up, spills, crumbs, mysterious stains, and such that comes with babies. It was a good ol' car seat and still one of the prettiest ones I have seen (it was from the Laura Ashley Baby Collection). 

When you dispose of your seat, be sure to cut the straps,
clearly making your car seat unusable. 
Also, when you dispose of your car seat, it is a good idea to
remove the seat cover. People are less likely to stop to pick up
the seat if there is no seat cover. You might be able to salvage the car seat cover, maybe
give it/sell it to someone who has the exact same model and perhaps would like a replacement seat cover,
but if their seat was purchased new in 2006 like mine was, their expiration date will be coming up just as
quickly and they too should be looking to properly dispose of their car seats as well. 
When I put my car seat to the curb, I made it very clear that
the car seat was not salvageable. On trash day, people drive around
looking for discarded items that they either can use or try to sell. I didn't want
anyone to even be bothered trying to retrieve this car seat from my garbage. 

Now Little Big Stuff is riding in pure luxury! Her new car seat is AMAZING! Its bigger of course since it is able to hold her for the next couple years- up to I believe 65 pounds! But its adjustment features are what makes it truly amazing- its sooo easy to adjust! I always has such a hell of a time when the girls needed adjustments made to the old car seat but this one is a breeze. LOVE IT!

Little Big Stuff loving her new ride!
 And I am truly, deeply, incredibly thankful for Ms Barbara Brown, the woman that helped me, for giving me the tip on going out of the county to get one of these bad boys for free. I was really nervous on where I was going to get the money for a new car seat on such short notice. The new one, if I had to purchase it, would be around $300. And it was brand new- still had the owners manual attached to it and everything. I suggest everyone checking with your local highway patrol, NHTSA, Safe Kids organization, or Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association in their area for more information on how they can get inspected and possibly get a brand new car seat that meets all the standards for free or at a discount.

To learn more about car seat expiration visit these links:

1 comment:

  1. Hi! First time visiting your blog. This is a very informative post that everyone should know. My husband and I recently found out that our little one's car seat just expired..... I just joined your google friend connect. I would be greatly appreciate it if you can join mine as well. Please visit my blog Poppin' Cents when you get a chance. Have a great day:-)