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Is Your Child’s Car Seat a Death Trap?

Picking a car seat can be one of the most important decisions parents can make for their children. This is a matter not to be taken lightly, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that car accidents are the number one cause of death for children under the age of 12.

The trust a parent places in the car seat they select comes from the expectation that it is going protect their child if they’re in a car accident. Unfortunately, car seats are not always failproof.

Last February, car seat manufacturer Graco was forced by NHTSA to recall 4.9 million toddler seats because the harness buckles became easily jammed if food or drinks were spilled on them, making it difficult to remove the child from the seat. In some cases, parents had to cut the straps to remove their children from the defective seats.

Last month, Graco ended a five-month battle with NHTSA, agreeing to recall an additional 1.9 million infant car seats for the same issue. When combined with the earlier toddler car seat recall, the total Graco recall makes it the largest recall of car seats in American history.

What can parents do to make sure their children are safe in their car seats? They can start by registering their child’s car seat to ensure they receive email updates and recall notifications about their child’s car seat. This is especially important because manufacturers are required by law to inform consumers of any potential safety issues with their products.

Parents should also become familiar with the many resources available to them about car seat safety. NHTSA has set up a website at Safercar.gov to teach parents how to buy the right car seat for their child depending on their age and size; how to install a car seat; car seat ratings; and car seat registration and recalls.

Locally, Safe Kids Pima County and participating fire stations will help parents properly install their child’s car seat. Call 520-324-2783 for locations and to make an appointment.

Spending a few minutes learning about the products that you trust to protect your loved ones can make the difference between life and death if you find yourself involved in a car accident.