Some Car Seat Accessories Pose Risk to Children: What Parents Need to Know
If you’re shopping for a new car seat or accessories, buyer beware. You may be surprised to find that many products found in stores and online are not regulated.
“Just because it says crash tested doesn’t mean it’s been reviewed or approved by any regulatory agency,” said Sharon Evans, RN, trauma injury prevention coordinator at Cook Children’s.
Previously, non-regulated car seats were seen most in areas like California and New York. But according to Evans, these products are now showing up in North Texas.
Here’s what you need to know:
- To be approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car seats must meet all the criteria to be able to state they meet or exceed FMVSS 213.
- Unregulated products may be found at well-known stores and online, so it is important for parents to check if the product is approved by the car seat manufacturer to be used with your specific car seat.
“The problem occurs when a parent buys a car seat that meets FMVSS 213, but adds accessories, which are not regulated. These products can alter the way the car seat works in a crash, or the accessory can become a flying missile, like a snap-on mirror,” explains Sharon Evans, trauma injury prevention coordinator at Cook Children’s. “I think parents feel that if it’s being sold by a big name retailer, it has to be safe, but often it isn’t.”
Evans big concern is that many car seat accessories claim to be “crash tested,” even though they are not regulated and do not meet the criteria by NHTSA.
The car seat manufacturers realize this is a problem and many now make non-regulated products such as seat protectors, water-resistant pads or covers for their specific car seats. If parents are going to add something to the car seat, it is important to verify the car seat manufacturer states the accessory is safe to use with the specific brand and model of the car seat.
“Accessories and non-regulated products are designed, made and sold by car seat manufacturers and anyone else who wants to,” Evans explained. “Even though the product may say ‘crash tested’ or meets NHTSA standards or FMVSS 213, however, there are no standards for these products. The product may be crash tested but we don’t know how and we don’t know if the product was tested in specific car seats and/or what car seats.”
What to look for:
- Make sure car seats are labeled with FMVSS 213. This means the product is approved by the NHTSA.
- Non-regulated products often have a similar label of FMVSV 213. These products are not federally registered, and cannot claim to effectively restrain the child or claim to prevent injury.
- Regulated products and accessories will state: Meets or exceeds all federal standards for car seat safety (FMVSS 213 Federal Motor Safety Standard for USA).
“Parents need to be really careful with car seat accessories, because you run the risk of your child being injured due to something like a footrest or head strap,” Evans said. “Unfortunately, some companies are intentionally using confusing labels to sell their products, so it’s really important that parents know what to look out for.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides child passenger safety that can be found here.