Experts say purchasing a used car seat puts your child at riskThe decision to buy a used car safety seat could compromise safety.
By: By Terry Rindfleisch, La Crosse Tribune, Wis., Superior Telegram
It's not unusual to see used car safety seats at rummage and garage sales this time of the year. People always are looking for a bargain, and they might be tempted to save some money on a car safety seat.
But the decision to buy a used car safety seat could compromise safety, said Kim Lombard, trauma injury prevention coordinator at Gundersen Lutheran.
The problem is people don't know what they're getting with a used car safety seat most of the time, Lombard said. People have to do some homework before buying used, she said.
"Stay clear of used car seats unless you can verify the age and crash history of the seat, and can use the model number to verify that the seat is not under recall," Lombard said.
"With the seats passed down by many people, the history gets lost, and people are not always aware of the recalls," she said.
Paula Silha, a child passenger safety technician educator, said the safest thing to do is not buy a car safety seat at a rummage sale.
"Most of the time you can't find out the needed information before buying, such as recalls and crashes," Silha said. "When I go to rummage sales, I'm tempted to buy the car seats so others won't."
People also think car seats are all right if they have been stored in grandma's attic for five years because they haven't been used, Silha said.
Straps are exposed to heat and cold over the years and deteriorate, she said.
"I often hear from people that manufacturers are just trying to sell you more car seats, but it's your child's life at stake," Silha said. "You need to find a good car seat that fits the size of your child.
"You can pinch your pennies elsewhere," she said. "This not a place to skimp."
Instead of buying a used car seat, Lombard suggests the following ways to save money on a new car seat:
Buy a new, but recently out-of-date or discontinued model. Older models often are discounted once the latest models begin to appear in stores.
Shop in advance for your car seat so you can find a bargain instead of waiting until your child has outgrown his or her current seat and you have to buy the first one you see.
Look for coupons or rebates for a new car seat or booster seat.
Find a car seat assistance program that can provide car seats to families in need, such as Safe Kids USA, some hospitals and some local health departments.
Lombard also urges people not to try to sell their expired and unsafe car seats. She recommends disposing of them and cutting the harness straps before throwing them away so no one else tries to use them.
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Copyright (c) 2011, La Crosse Tribune, Wis./Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.