Car seats can be unsafe and out-of-date

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HAMDEN – During a two-week span during the month of September, AAA Northeast offices in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut collected over 2,000 out-of-date or unsafe car seats, including at least 200 on display the AAA Hamden office Thursday.

Child safety experts say car seats should be used no longer than six years from their date of manufacture.

“One of the reasons for that is that the plastics, especially the foam inside, breaks down over time, especially here in New England, where we have such extreme temperatures of hot and cold in our vehicles,” said Diana Imondi Dias, a AAA Northeast traffic safety educator.

“I didn't realize that car seats expire until I took the class and then when I went home found out took a couple looks at the car seats and found out that I had to that had already expired and I got rid of him,” said Officer Jay Bunnell of the Hamden Police Department.  He is one of two Hamden officers now certified to install car seats.

“Soon we are going to be announcing on our Facebook page and our Twitter account when we're going to be taking appointments to install car seats,” added Bunnell.

Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital has been extra motivated in the area of child safety in cars since the death of a New Haven 4-year-old in a mid-August car accident. She wasn’t in a car seat.

“She was a patient a week prior, from one of our facilities, and sadly we weren’t able to provide her a seat because we didn't know she needed one,” said Monica Lucas, a passenger safety instructor for Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

In response to that tragedy, Lucas says the hospital has set forth a new protocol “for our physicians in the pediatric emergency room as well as all the staff. That if a child comes in following a motor vehicle collision, and they meet certain criteria, we provide them with seats.”

Since the program’s implementation, Yale-New Haven has issued car seats to nearly 10 children.

While many who purchase car seats attempt to install them, it is recommended that a certified passenger safety technician either at a police station or hospital do it for you.

If you are interested in receiving car seat recall information, log on to www.safercar.gov . If you prefer, you may also simply mail in your registration card that comes with the car seat. That will put you on email and postal lists to receive recalls.