January 2, 2003

Safety organization warns of problems with child seat buckles

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is warning consumers to watch out for problems with child seats equipped with recessed buckles built into the seat between the child’s legs.

The NHTSA said the buckles in these seats can easily collect particles of food, drink, dirt, sand or other material that may interfere with the buckle. The consumer may have difficulty latching and unlatching dirty buckles. In some cases the material may cause a “false latch” if the user mistakenly believes that the buckle is securely latched when it is not.

To ensure that the child is securely fastened in the child seat, the user should always check that the buckle is fully latched every time the seat is used. The user does this by (1) inserting the latch plate fully into the buckle; (2) listening for a click; and (3) tugging firmly on the harness webbing to make sure the buckle is latched.

Consumers should be sure to inspect the car seat regularly for food or debris down in the buckle area.

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