Go Online to Check for Safety Hand-me-downs are great for the family budget and the environment, but you’re smart not to skimp on when it comes to safety. Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for children and proper use of child safety seats can reduce infant death by 71 percent and 54 percent for toddlers ages 1 through 4.
Used car seats should be relatively new, free of cracks or damage, and without a history of vehicle accidents. Avoid car seats without a manufacturer’s label or model information and use the following resources to confirm the safety of any used seat.
Double-check Safety Standards Contact the manufacturer of your car seat to find out if the model you have meets safety standards. Seatcheck.org offers a list of popular car seat manufacturer hotlines and websites.
Child car seat safety information is available on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ site, healthychildren.org. Requirements can vary by state, so visit the Governors Highway Safety Association (ghsa.gov) website to learn about child restraint requirements in your state.
Look Up Recalls The National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA.gov) and Safercar.org offer updated child seat recall lists. Apps like Recalls.gov (for Android) and All Recalls (for iPhone) are handy for looking up product recalls when you’re browsing a neighborhood rummage sale or resale shop.
Register Your Seat Manufacturers are required to notify consumers in the case of a recall. If your seat is not currently on a recall list, make sure to register it in case of future safety alerts. You can register seats at Safercar.gov or directly with the seat manufacturer in most cases.
Don’t Forget Installation Used products don’t often come with instructions or packaging. To make sure you are installing the seat correctly, visit the manufacturer’s website and see if you can get a copy of the installation and assembly instructions for your product’s model number. You can also visit a child safety seat inspection center in your area. Search for one by zip code at Safercar.gov or SeatCheck.org.