A while back, I wrote about car seat expiration dates and the importance of knowing when a seat expires. Six years after the manufacture date is typical, but it’s always best to check each seat, as that can vary by manufacturer.
With the recent announcement from Recaro recalling more than 170,000 of their car seats, I figured now was a good time to also remind parents to check car seats for recalls.
Consumer goods are recalled all the time—your car, your fridge, you name it, but it’s particularly important to know when there is a recall issued for your child’s car seat because there will be steps you need to take.
Recalls can be minor, like for when a sticker or label is misprinted, or the reason for the recall can be more serious – the handle on your child’s seat may detach when being carried. Regardless of the severity of the recall, you need to know about it.
When you first purchase a car seat, there is a registration card attached to the seat. This card is often taken off and tossed—as with the registration cards of many other home appliances or products. However, as I often joke with families, I don’t care if you don’t register your refrigerator or Blu-ray player, but I do care if you register your child’s car seat. This is the only way for the car seat manufacturer to know that you have one of their products. If you don’t fill out and mail in the registration card, or go online to the manufacturer’s website and register your seat, they won’t be able to notify you in the event of car seat recalls. You WANT to complete the registration.
Car seat manufacturers have said that they only receive about 30-45 percent of their registration cards back from consumers. That means there are a lot of unregistered car seats and therefore lots of consumers who may not be informed on whether or not their child’s seat has a recall. This leads to further problems if that particular seat is passed on to another child or family member or even sold (which is not good practice, but it happens).
So, if you have tossed these cards in the past and now you’re worried you might have missed some information, you can still find out about any recalls. Go to www.odi.nhtsa.dot.gov and search by the manufacturer and model number of your child’s seat. All of the information you’ll need to do this search is located within the label on your child’s car seat (pictured right).
Also, it’s never too late to register your child’s car seat. Go the website for the car seat manufacturer and register it today! The car seat manufacturer wants to be sure they can contact you in the event of a recall. And, don’t worry, they will never use your information for anything other than notification of recalls.
It’ll only take a couple of minutes to check for recalls and register the seat while you have all of the information and it could quite literally save your child’s life. Please do it, and please make sure you send back the cards or register online with each new seat you buy.
Editor’s Note: Various locations throughout Cincinnati, including Cincinnati Children’s, offer free car seat fittings by appointment. If you have other car seat questions, please call the Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center at Cincinnati Children’s at 513-636-7865.