There is no denying that car seats are expensive, with prices ranging anywhere from R1 000 to R4 000. While that is a hefty price for many to consider, they are an absolute necessity for your child’s safety and can reduce the risk of death for infants by 70% and by 47–54% for children aged 1–4 years.
IMPERIAL Road Safety, and its established partner, Wheel Well, who clean and safety check all car seats collected through the IMPERIAL Car Seats for Kids Campaign; have noticed a distressing trend, which is on the increase of late, especially since the use of car seats is now legally compulsory.
Peggie Mars, from Wheel Well explains: “Many consumers, who are likely cash strapped and need to save money, are purchasing used car seats via online sites such as OLX and Gumtree. While this may seem innocent enough, it is actually a serious safety concern, as these seats have more than likely not undergone a proper safety check before being sold to the buyer.”
“Unless you’re buying a car seat from someone well known and trusted, you have no real way of knowing a used seat’s history or the exact age thereof (older seats may not be accepted as safe anymore) which is a real danger. In addition, when you are purchasing second hand goods, they may be missing their installation instructions, and so in the case of a car seat, the buyer may not how to truly install the seat properly – which is one of the major hazards when it comes to in-car child safety.”
“Moving away from safety and focusing on health – in general, it is said that car seats are usually dirtier than the average toilet, where scientists at University of Birmingham took swabs from 20 cars and homes and found that the seats had 100 different strains of dangerous bacteria including E. coli and salmonella bugs! This should be a real concern to parents, even more so if the seat is second hand and has not been properly cleaned and safety checked.”
Niki Cronje, Group Marketing at IMPERIAL knows all to well the dangers of a car seat that isn’t properly safety checked.
“IMPERIAL partnered with Wheel Well from the very beginning of our Car Seats for Kids Campaign, to ensure that all seats collected underwent the proper inspections and refurbishments, before being handed over at the car seat collection points.”
The problem is that many parents don’t realise that even a light ‘fender bender’ could affect the structural integrity of a seat, without it necessarily showing external signs of damage, rendering it ineffective should you be in a serious crash in the future.
Even though a new car seat may be quite expensive and put a dent in your budget – you really cannot put a price on the safety of your child.
Mars concludes: “However, we understand that a new car seat may be out of reach for many parents who are battling to make ends meet. I advise that if you are going to purchase a car seat online, that you ensure the seller provides you with the entire history of the seat, and that you make sure the car seat was never in any crash and that all parts are present and in good working order.”
“Further to that, if you are in the Johannesburg area, we encourage parents to bring through second hand car seats to Wheel Well at Brightwater Commons for a full safety check, clean and help with installation into the vehicle. Cleaning a seat costs R150, but all the other services are for a donation only if the parents feel that we have given them good service.”