Registered nurse Rene Hopkins, with Safe Kids at MCG Children's Medical Center, is conducting a contest to locate the oldest car seat in Augusta. Any car seat more than 10 years old or one that has been involved in an accident should be destroyed.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
A request for old car seats has been made, and Safe Kids of East Central Georgia hopes its challenge to find the oldest car seat in the area will get unsafe seats out of the hands of parents.
"Like all products, child safety seats have an expiration date," said Rene Hopkins, coordinator of Safe Kids of East Central Georgia. "Product integrity decreases over time, and normal wear takes its toll. In addition to that, as technology improves, older seats just do not provide the same level of protection to our children."
During Child Passenger Safety Week, Feb. 9-15, old car seats can be turned in at the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center lobby. Car seats also can be taken to Master Pontiac Buick GMC on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The person to turn in the oldest car seat can either choose a new car seat appropriate for his or her child, bike helmets for the family or a smoke alarm for the house. Other prizes also will be awarded.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, recommends that parents purchase new car seats for their children. But if a used car seat is used, parents are urged to shop carefully.
A January 2004 car safety seat checklist distributed by the AAP lists the date of expiration, history of seat and inclusion of instruction booklet among things to be considered when purchasing a used car seat. Buyers also want to make sure the frame of the seat is intact and the seat is not missing any parts.
"You should never use a child safety seat that you do not know the history of," Hopkins said. "It is tempting to purchase a used sat at a flea market or yard sale to save money, but this only provides a false sense of safety. You may not be able to tell from looking at it if the car seat has been damaged or involved in a crash. Once a seat has been in a crash, it may not hold up to another crash, so your child may be at risk."
Hopkins said that if a person is not the original owner of the seat, but knows its history - for instance, if it has been passed on from a family member - it is a good idea to check the recall status of the seat at www.recalls.gov.
"When purchasing a new seat, be sure to send in the owner's registration because if there is a recall on the seat, the manufacturer can notify you," Hopkins said.
State law currently mandates that children under age 5 must be in an appropriate child safety seat. But a bill recently passed in the Georgia House of Representatives and now under consideration by the Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee would require children up to age 7 and/or 4 feet, 9 inches tall to be restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat when riding in a motor vehicle.
If the committee recommends that the Senate pass the bill, it is expected that Gov. Sonny Perdue will sign it into law.
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