We recently shared the struggle of eco-conscious families to recycle expired car seats.
If you were thinking, like me, of repurposing your seat into a play thing of some kind with your kids rather than pitching it in the landfill, you might want to reconsider.
Denise Donaldson of Edmonds-based Safe Ride News Publications notes that car seats should never be used as toys, whether they’re brand new or expired.
“Car seats are safety devices that should be used for their intended purpose in a car,” Donaldson wrote. “Even when used by adults, there are safety concerns when car seats are used outside of vehicles, including the risk of strangulation, suffocation, and falls. Unfortunately, these concerns arise from real life tragedies.”
There’s a reason for all those warning labels — including a new one car seat manufacturers are now required to add about strangulation.
The new rule followed an act named for Danny Keysar, a 16-month-old from Illinois who, like at least 16 other children, died by strangulation in a portable crib.
In the latest rule, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that data show that the majority of infant fatalities in hand-held carriers were tied to “improper use or nonuse of the carrier’s restraint system.”
OK, so how about just removing the straps before letting the kiddo use an old car seat for pretend play?
It’s not that simple, Donaldson said.
The padding could still cause suffocation hazards. A car seat can also be quite heavy and could hurt a child if it toppled on top of him. Some parts are definitely not made for little hands.
“Bottom line, it might have pretty padding that makes it appealing to a child, but it is still a serious safety device and not a toy,” Donaldson said.
Let’s say someone decides to do it anyway?
“It is never a good idea to add a car seat to a child’s set of toys, since children shouldn’t ever be able to play with a car seat unless they are closely supervised at all times. I’d urge parents who decide to let a child play with a car seat while they supervise to make it a firm rule that the child may harness only dolls or stuffed animals, never another child,” she said.
Donaldson knows her stuff, having been closely involved in the child passenger safety field for nearly 20 years.