Did you know that car seats come with an expiration date? It’s true! No, your car seat won't suddenly explode or anything like that if you use it past the expiration date, but you could be putting your little one at serious risk if you place them in an expired car seat.

When I first heard that car seats come with an expiration date, I immediately thought it was a way for manufacturers to squeeze more money out of consumers. Any parent will tell you that it feels like the world is out to squeeze everything they can from our wallets when it comes to gadgets and devices for our kids, but that’s not why car seats come with an expiration. Car seats come with an expiration to keep your children safe, a fact that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration agrees with.

Why do car seats expire? Well, as with anything, technology improves and standards change over time. When I was a baby, car seats weren’t even mandatory. As a matter of fact, my mom used to lay me in a banana box on the floor of the car. Fast forward to 2002 when car seats had long been mandatory, but they weren't even equipped with lower anchors and tethers, now a standard feature. Secondly, car seats weren’t made to last forever. With time, car seat bases can develop hairline fractures and those could shatter if you’re in a car accident. And then there's the fact that manufacturers only test car seats for a certain amount of time so they don’t know how older car seats will hold up in an accident.

If you want to make sure the car seat you have is safe for your most precious cargo and that it's installed properly, schedule an appointment at one of these places:

Broome County Sheriff's Office
155 Lt. VanWinkle Drive, Binghamton, NY 13905
Car seat inspections are held on the third Tuesday of each month from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Schedule an appointment with Christine Muss by calling 607- 778-2807 or e-mail cmuss@co.broome.ny.us

Endicott Fire Department
1101 Park Street, Endicott, NY 13760
Car seat inspections are held on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Schedule an appointment by reaching out to Robert Tinklepaugh or Matt Griswold at 607-757-2466 or e-mail RTinklepaugh@co.broome.ny.us or MGriswold2@co.broome.ny.us

When you visit, a safety check will be conducted by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. The tech will check to see if the car seat is installed properly, the seat's expiration status, whether or not the seat is under recall if the seat is properly harnessed, and that the seat is appropriate for your child based on their age, weight, height, and development.

On the day of your appointment, you should bring your car seat (s), child(ren), and the vehicle the child safety seat that will be installed in as well as the car seat manual to your car seat safety check.

[via Parents Central/National Safety Commission/Governor's Traffic Safety Committee]