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December 31,  2002

NHTSA Warns Of Potential Buckle Problems On Child Seats Equipped With Recessed Buckles

(SafetyAlerts) - The U.S. Department of Transportation?s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today warned consumers to watch out for problems with child seats equipped with recessed buckles built into the seat between the child?s legs.

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. If the buckle becomes difficult to operate, or fails to latch even after it is cleaned, NHTSA recommends that the consumer contact the child seat manufacturer and the safety agency?s toll-free Auto Safety Hotline, 1-888-327-4236, to report the problems associated with child seat buckle operation. If the buckle does not latch properly even after it is cleaned, the seat should not be used.

Source: NHTSA

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