Reports of unsafe knock-off brands of car seats in neighboring Idaho and other parts of the US has the Summit County Health Department on alert.
Summit County Health Department Educator Alyssa Mitchell says these car seat counterfeits are made of very flimsy material.
“The plastic for the car seat will be bendable and they’re very thin,” Mitchell said. “When you have a regular car seat the chest clips, the buckles and everything they’re made of metal. That is not the case with these counterfeit car seats, they’re made of plastic. Bendable, cheap plastic and some of them don’t even come with chest clips. As these car seats have been discovered and tested, we’re finding that in a crash, even minor crashes, these car seats break very easily. A normal car seat in a minor car accident would look normal, these ones are completely collapsing and destroying the dolls that are in them.”
Usually the car seats are sold by third-party distributors on marketplace websites. Mitchell warns that the seller listed on Amazon sites will be unfamiliar and strange, while legitimate car seats will have the manufactures listed as the seller. Mitchell outlines other warning signs.
“The pictures for some of these car seats also when you’re looking at the images there’s not going to be a lot of details in these pictures,” Mitchell continued. “One of the ones that I looked at the picture was completely pixilated, it was very fuzzy to look at and there was only one picture. You could see that there were no stickers on the side of the car seat. True car seats they’ve got warning labels on them, they’ve got height and weight measurements requirements on the side of them. Also there either won’t be very many reviews or the reviews are very mixed or poor with these car seats as well.”
Mitchell says when you purchase a legitimate car seat you’ll have a large installation manual, warning labels, and lots of tags. Mitchell warns that a lot of people are tempted to buy the knock-off car seats because they’re so affordable.
“I have two kids, I have two car seats, it gets very expensive and these knockoff brands are going to try and make you think you’re getting a deal,” Mitchell explained. “Especially with the travel systems that come with a stroller as well. One travel system I saw trying to claim to be a safety-first car seat, the travel system was $150. For a parent who looks at that and goes and looks at another brand where it’s almost $300 they’re going to think ‘oh I’m getting a deal here.’ It’s not the case. Travel systems are not generally sold for that much. We really need people to ask the question why is this so cheap? Why is this deal good?”
“You get what you pay for” KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher added.
“Yes exactly,” Mitchell responded. “Now with that being said there are cheaper car seats that people can purchase. Not all of them are super expensive. If people were to go into a Walmart here in Park City they could probably get an infant seat for about $100. It’s a reliable seat, it’s a sturdy seat. You don’t have to spend a fortune on car seats but if you’re online shopping I would be a little bit leery of the cheap and too good to be true type deals.”
If you are unsure if your child’s car seat is safe you can call the county health department which offers a car seat safety check.
“We go through with a parent how to install their car seat make sure it’s a tight fit,” Mitchell said. “How to make sure the child is in there correctly. Usually it takes about 40 minutes to an hour to do. We also provide for people who are in low income we do have our Rosie’s seat program and can provide low cost car seats to people in need”
You can contact Alyssa Mitchell about car seat safety and the Rosie’s seat program at 435-333-1508 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.