Consumer Alert: What are parents forgetting about car seat safety?

Car seat reminders for parents

Check the latest safety tips and regulations for car seats.
Check the latest safety tips and regulations for car seats.

Parents hope they're doing everything possible to keep their children safe in the car. However, federal regulators say many parents are forgetting two simple steps that would help to keep their children even safer.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says many forget to register their child's car seat to ensure they'll be contacted in case of a recall.

"It's a good idea to have it registered because sometimes there are some defects in the car seats. Sometimes, the buckles don't hold the children in properly and they'll let you know immediately, and they'll offer you a solution for that problem for free," says Dr. Michael Macknin, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

If your car seat is recalled, and the manufacturer cannot reach you, you might miss that important safety information.

Check the Expiration Date

Did you know car seats have expiration dates? They do!

"Car seats, like any other kind of plastic will degrade over time and they'll become more brittle and generally, it's about a six-year life for any car seat. The expiration date should be on your car seat and most people don't know that, and it's certainly worth checking," added Dr. Macknin.

Because of those expiration dates, you want to be very careful if you ever buy a used car seat, or receive one as a gift. The car seat may look usable, but check that date to be sure it's not worn out, and might put your child at a higher risk for injury.

The NHTSA researchers say car crashes are a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old, so it's important that your child's car seat is serviceable and installed properly. Dr. Macknin also agrees with NHTSA researchers who remind us that the back seat is the safest place for all children under 13.

"The front seat has the airbag and the airbag can deploy at well over 100 miles per hour, and a young child that is hit in the face with an airbag could suffer very, very serious injuries in just a little fender-bender."

Federal researchers also say a properly installed car seat reduces an infant's risk of fatal injury by 71 percent, and a toddler's by 54 percent.

Be sure to register your child's car seat with the manufacturer to keep them safe and secure at all times while driving.

You can find more information on car seats and safety online at Safe Car.