TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Safe Kids Benton-Franklin is warning parents about car seats they say might be dangerous; especially if it was bought for cheap.
Benton-Franklin Health District and area Safe Kids coordinator Kathleen Clary-Cooke says parents everywhere like saving money and feeling like they got a good deal.
She says counterfeiters are taking advantage of it with cheap, potentially deadly knock-off car seats.
"These parents think they're doing the right thing when in fact we don't know if [the seat] would hold up in a crash,” she said. “Some of the ones we've seen crash-testing for literally fall apart."
Crash-test dummies don’t lie, but online retailers might.
Cooke says they’re seeing a rise in counterfeit car seats around the Tri-Cities; convincing knock-offs of more expensive brands.
She told says the expensive brands are fine, but they aren’t necessarily safer than more-affordable options.
"[More expensive car seats] might be easier to use and easier to install,” she shrugged. "But the $40 car seat passes the same crash test as a $300 seat."
Meaning one isn’t better than the other as far as the officials are concerned.
"Because the federal testing is pass-fail, we can't necessarily say one seat is automatically safer," she said.
Though they can't say it's not safe, either.
This is one of many reasons she says parents shouldn't choose something potentially counterfeit.
“You'll notice it doesn't say the name, it has a letter-A right here, though it did have yellow wheels," she said.
The car seat pictured above is imitating a Doona model retailing for $500.
"It looked a lot like [it], so someone might think they got a great car seat at a really good price."
She said she hopes learning this makes parents shop more cautiously,
“Do you want to take a risk like that with your child’s life?”
Cooke recommends checking the seat’s label and tags, but nowadays even those can be forged.
That’s why she says it’s important to shop local, because even Amazon can be tricky.
"It's these third-party sellers or websites you've never heard of before. When they're promising big discounts they're probably not legal or safe car seats,” she said. “What's your child's life worth? You're truly putting your child at risk by using a knock-off or counterfeit seat."
Cooke told Action News it’s illegal to use a car seat from another country unless it passes American crash-testing.
That’s why it’s important to stick with brands you know.
"The best car seat for any family is the one that fits their budget, child, and car," she explained. "And which they can install and use properly every time."