Even though child car seats can be expensive, placing your child in one is the best way to protect him or her from injury in a car accident. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that using a height- and weight-appropriate car seat reduces injury risk by as much as 82%.
If you have a collision when your child is in the car, you may wonder if it is safe to continue to use the car seat. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is only acceptable to use car seats that have been through minor collisions. Accordingly, you should replace the seat after moderate or severe ones.
Was your accident moderate or severe?
The terms, “minor,” “moderate” and “severe,” may not mean much to you.
Fortunately, the NHTSA has a framework for determining if your crash was moderate or severe. If your accident has any of the following characteristics, you should replace your child’s car seat immediately:
- Someone suffered an injury in the crash.
- Your car was not drivable after the accident.
- The door closest to your child’s car seat sustained damage.
- Your car’s airbags deployed.
How should you dispose of a damaged car seat?
Inspecting your child’s car seat for damage is one of many critical steps to take after an accident.
If you must discontinue use of your child’s car seat because of possible damage in an accident, you do not want someone else to end up with the seat. Therefore, you should clearly mark the seat as damaged using paint or a marker. Then, you should dispose of the seat according to its manufacturer’s instructions.
Ultimately, when you properly discard an unusable car seat, you protect your son or daughter and everyone else’s.