LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – With a rise in the sale of counterfeit car seats, there is a growing concern about the ability for parents and caregivers to keep their children safe on Michigan roads. As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 17-23, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) are offering guidance to buyers to ensure they are purchasing car seats that will keep their child safe in the event of a crash, including tips on how to identify counterfeit seats and verify the seat purchased meets U.S. regulations and safety standards.

Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director, says, “Parents and gift givers are purchasing seats from online deal sites, sometimes with high-end price tags. Even parents that do extensive research can be easily fooled by these unsafe lookalikes or tricked into purchasing car seats that do not meet U.S. regulations or safety standards.”

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Katie Bower, OHSP director, says, “Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for young children, and properly restrained children have a greater chance of surviving a crash. Counterfeit car seats are made of cheaper, flimsier materials that are unable to withstand the forces that occur in a crash. These car seats are not federally regulated in the U.S. and are not safe to use for your children.”

Red flags that parents and caregivers should look for when shopping for a car seat include the following:

  • Missing mandatory information including minimum and maximum height and weight in English, model name and number and date of manufacturing labeled clearly on the seat.
  • Missing the statement on at least one label: “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.”
  • Foreign languages on the label that do not include English.
  • Car seats that don’t come with a car seat manual and/or a registration recall card.
  • No five-point harness with chest clip (except for booster seats).

Parents and caregivers can get additional information and tips in a flyer that was created by the Manufacturers Alliance for Child Passenger Safety.

For individuals who purchase a car seat that has any of the red flags, there are additional ways to confirm the car seat is legal and safe for use including finding the label with the car seat manufacturer’s name, address and phone number and contact them directly about your seat; getting the car seat inspected by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician; and verifying the car seat is on the American Academy of Pediatrics 2023 Car Seat Product List.

Individuals who receive an unsafe car seat are asked to let the retailer know and return it. If the return does not require the car seat to be sent back, discard the seat by removing the padding and cutting the harness straps. Do not donate the car seat. Unsafe car seats should also be reported to the following governmental agencies: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Report by using an online form or calling 888-327-4236; Consumer Product Safety Commission – Go to SaferProducts.gov or call 800-638-2772; U.S. Department of Commerce – Notify this federal agency in addition to reporting to NHTSA at STOPfakes.gov.

For those who are considering using a secondhand car seat, use the checklist below to determine if the car seat could be used:

  • The seat has never been involved in a moderate to severe crash.
  • The seat has labels stating date of manufacture and model number. This information is needed to find out if there is a recall on the car seat or if the seat is too old.
  • The seat has no recalls. If you do find a recall on the car seat, you should contact the manufacturer as some problems can be fixed.
  • The seat has all its parts. If the seat is missing a part, contact the manufacturer as some parts can be ordered.
  • The seat has its instruction book. You can also order the instruction manual from the manufacturer.