If you are a parent, you undoubtedly worry about your child’s safety every time he or she is in your car, truck or SUV. You can reduce your child’s injury risk substantially by always restraining him or her in a size-appropriate car seat, though. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the right car seat can shrink your child’s injury risk by more than 80%.
Today’s car seats tend to have plastics and other breakable materials, so you may wonder if it is safe to continue to use a car seat that has been through a car accident. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes, it is only appropriate to continue using a car seat that has been through a minor collision. You should always replace car seats that have been in moderate and severe car accidents, though.
When is a car accident moderate or severe?
For purposes of replacing child car seats, the NHTSA considers the following crashes to be moderate or severe:
- Accidents that render your vehicle undrivable
- Accidents that cause someone to suffer an injury
- Accidents that result in airbag deployment
- Accidents that cause damage to the side of your vehicle closest to the car seat
What should you do with an unsafe car seat?
If your child’s car seat has been through a moderate or severe car accident, you should replace it immediately. You do not want a damaged car seat to endanger any other child, however. Therefore, you should resist the temptation to donate or sell your car seat.
To keep other children safe, you should clearly mark the car seat as damaged using permanent markers or spray paint. Then, you should put the car seat into your garbage can or send it to a recycling plant.