Your child’s car seat is probably the only thing that you will buy that has the potential to save your child’s life. You can get a basic standard model seat for less than $80. While I understand how tempting it is to go to a garage sale and buy a used seat that is half the price, I would strongly recommend against it.
1) Car Seats Expire.
A lot of people either do not know that car seats expire, or think it is all some hoax to encourage people to buy more seats. Well, you are welcomed to think that, but I think you’re nuts.
Expiration dates are given to car seats for numerous reasons. 1) The plastic used when making the car seat wears down over time. The plastic gets brittle as it gets older, so the seat could break if it too old and you happen to get in an accident. Doesn’t it make sense that the sun and heat of your car can wear down the plastic and make the seat not as strong as intended? I think that is common sense.
Often times, car seats come with special flame resistant materials on the straps that secure your child. Over time, that material wears off, making the seat less safe. This film on the straps is also the reason why you should never remove the straps from the seat and wash them in the washing machine. Instead, wipe it down with a wet wipe.
2) Original paperwork.
No car seat was created equal. Just because you have installed a car seat before, does NOT mean you can install them all. They are all made different and come with different parts and pieces. Nine times out of 10, if you buy a car seat from a friend or a garage sale, the seat probably does not have the original paperwork showing how to install the seat or how to use the additions that came when the seat was first purchased. Without this information, you could be missing crucial details that could save your child’s life.
You need the original paperwork. More concerning than not having the original paperwork or parts and pieces, if that you have no way of knowing if the seat has been in a previous accident. A car seat is not designed to sustain multiple accidents. So if they car seat has already been in an accident, the materials are not strong enough to survive another one. Unfortunately, there is not a Carfax for car seat to give you an accident report. Yet another reason you are better off just getting a new one! If you do for some reason, still buy a used seat, you can call the manufactures to get a copy of the manual.
3) Car seats are recalled.
As much as I hate to say it, sometimes seats end up at garage sales or given away because the seat was recalled by the manufacturer. Some parents may acknowledge the seat is not safe for their own child, but think they would be doing someone a favor by still giving it away. And while I can appreciate the thought that a car seat is better than no car seat, you should still be cautious. Organizations likes the CDC, or your local health department keep a running list of car seats that have been recalled. You might have seen in the news where Graco recalled a ton of seats because of a faulty belt. I think it is safe to say that out of those thousands of seats that were recalled, not all of them made it back to Graco or were properly disposed of, and instead someone else is using it today.
4) New Technology.
Have you ever looked up the evolution of the car seat? They have changed so much since they were first introduced. The first model car seats were introduced not for safety, but instead to let the child see out the window for a more pleasurable driving experience. So often I hear people say, “Well when I was growing up we didn’t have car seats, we didn’t even have seat belts.” I want to punch these people between the eye. Before safety standards for vehicles and the mandate for car seats, the cars we drove were a lot different. Do you think in 50 years, a 2014 Chevy Cavilers is going to be preserved and sitting in a collector’s garage? I think not. Cars are not built the same today. Back then, cars were luxury item that were built to last. They could crash and barely even have a ding on them. Today, you brush up against the curve and the car is totaled. We live in a different time. Cars today also run a little faster, and have considerably more drivers on the roads than back then.
A good example of how car seat technology changes is that in 2002 car seats were not equipped with Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children (LATCH). Now however, they are a standard feature in nearly all car seats.
The PROPER way to dispose of a car seat is to rip it to shreds. Make sure that you leave nothing left in a car seat so if someone happened to find it at the dump, they would not be tempted to get it. When there are so many different experts and organizations screaming about the safety of these seats, are you really willing to risk your child’s safety to save a few bucks?
I understand hardship all too well. I know that sometimes life throws up curve balls and sometimes we just cannot make ends meet. I have been there. If you find yourself in that situation, know that events like the upcoming one in my area, Buckle up, Baby! and local health departments will provide NEW car seats for FREE or at very little cost. And if you still cannot get one, message me. I do not care who you are or where you are. I do not need to know your story or even why you need it. Just send me a message that you need a car seat, and I will personally get you a new one. Our children’s safety is just too important.