Yancy Flores of Anaheim didn’t know that child car seats have an expiration date.
But that’s no surprise.
Many motorists traveling with young children have no idea that the car seat in their vehicle, designed to protect the most precious cargo in the world, comes with an expiration date, said Anaheim PD Sgt. Rod Duckwitz.
The traffic sergeant was among four APD traffic officers and other department employees that recently hosted the agency’s Car Seat Check-Up Day.
Held Dec. 17 at APD headquarters, the free event gave parents and caregivers the chance to have their car seats inspected — and even replaced for free, if necessary.
Flores came by with her nieces, Luna, 3, Iris, 5, and Haylee, 16, and their mom to have the child seat in their 2011 Chevy HHR inspected.
“I think they should have it in more places,” Flores said. “It’s very important to get educated on child safety and to let our family know what we learned here.”
While officers were busy inspecting the two safety seats in their 2011 Chevy HHR, the kids made Christmas crafts and visited with Santa Claus.
Many, including Flores and her family, wound up driving off with a brand-new car seat, courtesy of APD, because the existing car seat was expired or had other safety issues beyond repair.
“Getting (children) into car seats is only half the battle,” Duckwitz said. “It’s important that they are installed properly so these kids can travel down the roadway as safely as possible.”
In addition to being expired, common issues related to car seat safety include harnesses being too loose, the seat being in the wrong position or the straps being twisted, the sergeant said.
Harmony Gates and her husband Jeff Fingler came by with their 10-month-old daughter Elizabeth to make sure the safety seats in their Camry and Element were installed properly.
Officers made a few adjustments and the couple was good to go.
“You feel smart until you try and install one of these things,” Gates said. “I’m very glad they have this.”
Between safety checkpoints, such as the one Dec. 17, and caregivers bringing their safety seats to the APD Traffic Unit, Traffic Officer Oscar Ayon estimates the department has inspected about 100 car seats over the past three months.
Most car seats — 98 percent, in fact — need at least a minor adjustment, Ayon said.
Inspections are done free by appointment.
While safety seat inspections at the department are held to educate caregivers and insure children are traveling safely with no citations given, a seat that is improperly installed can result in a minimum fine of $100, Ayon said.
“The infant can’t choose, so the caregiver must make the choice for them and if they can’t do it, then it is our responsibility,” Ayon said. “The greatest cost is the jeopardy of the children.”
APD is hosting the next Car Seat Check-up starting at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 at the main station at 425 S. Harbor Blvd. Anaheim inspections are done by appointment only.