Hospitals across the state — including here in Southwest Florida — are coming across counterfeit car seats when staff help parents strap their new babies in before heading home. Counterfeit car seats aren't regulated and may not be up to safety standards.
With inflation at a 40-year high, you might be trying to save a buck and find a more affordable car seat, but it could be putting your child in danger without knowing it.
"These seats are not protecting the kids like they should," Courtney Gleaton, the Injury Prevention Coordinator for Orlando Health, said.
Since January, Orlando Health has identified 27 counterfeit car seats and 11 foreign seats. They were discovered as staff helped parents strap in their new baby before leaving the hospital.
"A counterfeit car seat is a car seat that is non-regulated anywhere, and is made somewhere and is not crash-tested. But a foreign car seat is crash-tested, maybe in Europe, but those standards don't meet the U.S. standards,” Gleaton said.
To make sure your car seat is safe:
- Check the straps and anchoring parts: officials say knockoffs may not have lower anchor attachments or a chest clip
- Look out for paperwork: a car seat manual and registration card are included in all federally-compliant car seats in the U.S.
- Read the labels: a federally-compliant seat will have a warning label showing it complies with federal motor vehicle safety standards
"If it does not have any of those labels in English and Spanish, if the labels are in another language, that can be an indication that it is a counterfeit car seat," Gleaton said.
Hospital officials say many of these car seats are bought online through third party vendors. Many times when a parent realizes they have a counterfeit car seat, they can't get ahold of the vendor they got it from to get their money back.
Orlando Health said if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Lee Health said they have not tracked exact numbers, but have been seeing both counterfeit and non-U.S.-approved car seats.
To report a counterfeit car seat, click here.