Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Car Seats are Like Milk

“Would you smell this milk and tell me whether you think it is still good? It expired three days ago.”

Uh. If you have to ask, maybe it’s best to throw it out. Better safe than sick, right?

When it comes to food, those kinds of decisions aren’t difficult. But did you know that car seats have expiration dates, too?

This week, Sept. 16-22 is National Child Passenger Safety Week.

According to Jackie Spainhower, the Northwest Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety Regional coordinator, they sure do. 
Find car seat and booster information at

"Many parents don't realize that using an expired car seat can compromise their child's safety," Spainhower said. "Unless you have specific directions from the manufacturer, the car seat label or the manual that state otherwise, you should stop using a car seat after six years. Expired car seats should be destroyed so no one uses the seat thinking it's still safe."

Car seats have a rough life. The materials in them expand when temperatures inside vehicles soar well above 120 degrees in the sun and way down below freezing in the winter. They take a pounding from little bouncing bottoms – and excited, jumping feet – and are schlepped none too gently from vehicle to vehicle. Hairline cracks can form - too tiny for most to see - yet they can compromise the seat and cause it to perform poorly during a crash.

Good thing there are helpful Missourians who are certified to check car seats. They want you to know they’re happy to take a look at your car seat, get it installed correctly – about 80 percent of seats need at least some kind of adjustment – and answer your questions about the best seating for infants, toddlers and junior backseat drivers.

Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Inspection Station locator to find certified experts near you -  www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm . Almost all perform the service free of charge.

They will not, however, sniff the contents of that bottle you found under the passenger seat.