Child safety is no joke. Every day, children are injured and worse due to improper car seat usage. If you are like most parents, you have had to strap your kid into one of these plastic contraptions on more than one occasion. Some days, it is a struggle. If your baby is old enough to prefer being out of the car seat, then you know just how challenging it can be to get them into it when you need to go somewhere. Most kids, no matter how young, can put up a fight against the car seat. This does not mean that you should give up, however. After all, you know the gravity of the situation better than they do.
While you may know that car seats are safe, do you know the laws behind them? Do you know which brand leads the way in safety? Right now, one of the leading brands is Safety First. If you have any experience with Safety First car seats, then you have probably also seen the Safety First car seat expiration date on the side. Why do they have this? We are going to answer that question, along with helping you to understand the laws surrounding car seats and your child’s safety.
What Is Safety First?
Did you know that in the early days of automobiles, children’s car seats were not for safety? Manufacturers designed them so that they would hold the baby or child in one place and allow them to get a good view out of the window. Think of a sack on the back of a seat, or canvas and metal seats that boost the baby. Early on, safety in vehicles was not a priority. It took a few decades for people to start considering the importance of safety in a vehicle.
In the 1960s, the atmosphere changed and car seats began their journey towards safer. It was no longer just about giving your child a boost; it was about protecting them. However, it was not going to be until the 1980s that the federal government started to take safety seriously. In 1985, it became illegal to transport your baby without a car seat. Then, after that, the regulations only tightened, and people became more aware of why you have to have a seat in your car.
So where does Safety First come into this? Michael Lerner founded Safety First in 1984. As parents became more concerned about their child’s safety, he noticed that there weren’t a lot of products that actually addressed their worries. The point of the company is to create a line of products that address child safety. Car Safety is one of these areas where they put safety ahead of everything else. Their lines of car seats are famous for being some of the best.
The Purpose of Car Seats and Car Seat Laws
The purpose of car seats is clear to most people. You use a car seat to make sure that your child is safe. If your baby was born in a hospital, then there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with a common hospital policy. This policy generally has hospital personnel making sure that you have a car seat before you leave. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Those who use public transportation or walk to and from the hospital may not have to have a car seat. Keep in mind that there is no law that hospitals have to abide by, but it is a very common practice.
The point of policies like this goes in line with the fact that car seats are about protecting your baby. A lot of us do not want to think of a situation where we are in a car accident, especially with our children in the car. Unfortunately, this does happen. Without a car seat, your child is vulnerable. Keep in mind that while in the car, you and your child are moving at the same speed as the vehicle. This can be disastrous if the car stops suddenly or is involved in an impact. If your child isn’t buckled in safely, the injuries that they sustain can be massive and severe, if not life-threatening.
Now, one thing to keep in mind about car seat safety laws in the United States is that every single state sets its own laws. All 50 states have laws requiring young children and infants be properly secured in car seats. The differences tend to lie in the different ages and weights that require you to have to use a car seat. First, however, let’s talk about the laws around infants because these laws tend to be similar across the board.
All infants must be in a rear-facing car seat. This is usually until the baby is one year old or until they are over 20 pounds. Next are toddlers and any child under the age of four or five. While there is some variation between states, all states agree that toddlers have to be secure in a child restraint seat while in the car and only in the backseat. Infants and rear-facing seats are now illegal in the front seat. Most states also require that kids under 60 pounds use a booster seat. The only exception to this law is South Dakota.
The punishment you face if your child is not in a car seat is usually a fine. These fines can vary anywhere between $10 and $500. This also means that you have to properly install and use the car seat. Parents should make sure that they read the instructions carefully and thoroughly. The idea is that if you use a car seat, you acknowledge that you understand how to install it and that you read the instructions. If you didn’t, then you are still liable.
What to Know About Car Sear Expiration
So, now that you know the rules what about car seat expiration dates? If you ask parents about when their car seat expires, they might not be able to give you an answer. In fact, many parents are surprised that their car seat has an expiration date. You may be wondering why it needs one. Here are a few reasons why.
Changing Regulations and Standards
Every year, technology advances and we know more about how to keep children safer in the car. With an outdated seat, you aren’t going to get the best protection possible. As regulations and standards change, our seats also have to change. The expiration date considers this. You should stay up to date.
Long-term Wear and Tear
Yes, your car seat is made out of hard plastic, but this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t break down over time. Over the years, plastic ends up brittle, metal pieces wear out, and the car seat isn’t as safe as the one that you originally purchased. Would you really trust an older car seat in an accident, knowing that it could break? Most would not.
No More Replacement Parts
After a while, car seats go out of manufacturing. While a company is still manufacturing a car seat, however, you can find replacement parts if something goes wrong. You can send your car seat in for repairs or to make sure that it isn’t missing any vital parts. As time goes on, those components become impossible to pick up. If the company cannot replace the piece, then it doesn’t do any good to have that car seat on the market or in continued use.
If you have a Safety First Car Seat, you will see an expiration date on it. Since they pride themselves on being leaders when it comes to safe transportation for children, they are going to make sure that you know when to replace the seat. For Safety First seats, you usually have six years after the date of manufacture before the seat expires.
Conclusion: Car Seats Are a Legal and Moral Obligation
Your child depends on you to keep him or her safe. If you aren’t using a car seat with your child under 20 pounds and in some cases, heavier than that, then you aren’t thinking about their ultimate safety. Children do not know the dangers associated with being in a vehicle. It is your job to make sure that they have a secure seatbelt on at all times.
Of course, this is not only a parental obligation; it is a legal Of of course, this is not only a parental obligation; it is a legal one. While there is no federal law regulating car seat use, every state has its own specific laws and are strict in enforcing them. The best way to avoid any hassle from the police or any injury to your child is to install your car seat properly. In addition, pay attention to the car seat, how it’s made and how long you have had it. All car seats have an expiration date, and you shouldn’t venture past that date. While some car seats may be in better shape than others may, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to your child’s safety.