Check your car seats

Published 10:20 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Some local organizations are holding a month-long event in February meant to bring attention to the need for the safe use of child safety seats.

Drive Safe Hampton Roads, AAA Tidewater, Walmart and other organizations are partnering for the annual “Child Seat Round Up.”

Throughout February, parents and caregivers are encouraged to turn in child safety seats that are potentially unsafe due to age, damage, a product recall or because they have unknown history.

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“The project has a two-fold purpose,” said Georjeane Blumling, spokeswoman for AAA Tidewater. “One is to raise awareness with parents about checking their car seat and making sure it’s still within the expiration date and it’s still good to use, it has all its pieces and parts and it’s not on a recall. The other goal of the program really is to get potentially dangerous seats off the market.”

Car seats that are more than six years old, have parts missing, have been in the car during a moderate or severe crash, have been subject to a recall or have unknown history should not be used, Blumling said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car seat should also have labels stating the date of manufacture and model number, in order to know when it’s too old or if there has been a recall. The seat should also have all of its parts and come with its instruction book.

If those recommendations cannot be met, the seat should not be used.

“If a parent doesn’t know the answers to those things, we recommend they not acquire the seat,” Blumling said.

She said it’s easy to understand the appeal of purchasing a seat second-hand.

“Car seats aren’t necessarily the cheapest thing,” she said.

However, the dangers outweigh the price difference. There’s no way to know if a seat purchased second-hand, unless it’s from family or a trusted friend, has been involved in a crash, for instance.

To encourage people to get rid of potentially unsafe car seats, Walmart is offering a $5 gift card for each seat — up to a maximum of two per person — turned in during the car seat roundup during February. The car seats can be turned in at any AAA Tidewater branch, including the one at 3529 Bridge Road in Suffolk, as well as most Hampton Roads Walmart locations, including the one on College Drive in Suffolk — but excluding the one on North Main Street.

The safety seats will be collected by Waste Management of Virginia and used to generate energy.

“Waste Management being a partner has allowed us to reuse those seats without recycling them in the sense of having another child in them,” Blumling said.

Parents are also encouraged to visit AAA locations to check if their car seat is properly installed.

AAA Tidewater and other traffic safety organizations recommend that children be approximately 80 to 100 pounds and no shorter than 57 inches before graduating them to a seat belt. In the state of Virginia, it is required that all children under the age of 8 be properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat.

For more information on the program, visit