Weight Guidelines for Securing Car Seats Changing

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Car seats can weigh anywhere from 15-30 lbs, and while that's tough on parents carrying their kids around, new studies also show that it could affect a child's safety in a car crash.

Karen Triplett, the coordinator for Platte Valley Safe Kids through Good Samaritan Hospital, says those weight issues are causing some car seat regulations changes this year. The new regulations deal with weight guidelines for when to use seatbelts or the anchor and tether system known as LATCH to buckle in car seats.

"We will weigh the car seat, and then weigh the child, and if their combined weight is less than 65 lbs we will go ahead and use the LATCH system," says Triplett.

But if a child and their seat weigh more than 65 lbs, car seat technicians say it's time to use seatbelts since they're designed for more weight.

"In a high-speed crash the weight of the seat plus the weight of the child would put more force on that anchor and it could actually come loose," says Diana Johnson, Child Safety Coordinator at Saint Francis Medical Center.

To help parents, car seat makers will be required to mark the seat's weight on it starting in February.

"They won't have to worry about doing the math, but if they have a car seat now, it won't have that on there," says Johnson.

Experts say seats are not designed to last forever, so as regulations change and parents check to make sure their seats are installed properly, it's also a good time to look at the expiration date.

"They're made of plastic and they're in heat, cold, everything, and they deteriorate," says Triplett.

A seat's expiration date is usually near the model number, or stamped into the plastic somewhere on the seat. Triplett says newer seats also come with new safety features, so getting an old seat from friends or family isn't always a good idea.

"None of us are using six year old cell phones and car seats are just like cell phones or anything else, there's technology and things that advance that make them safer and make them work better," she says.

Experts say that's also why parents should never buy used seats in case they're expired or have been weekend in an accident.