If you are not using your car seats every day, there may be extenuating circumstances that necessitate long-term storage. As expensive and important as car seats are, it’s important to store them correctly when you pack them away. Proper storage will ensure that your car seats stay safe from damage that could occur from the storage environment.
Note the manufacturer label on the car seat to determine the brand, the model number and the manufacture date. Transfer this information to your car seat records because it will enable you to check for product recalls prior to using the car seat again, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, many car seats have expiration dates that indicate a date after which you should not use a car seat. In general, avoid using a car seat that is more than six years old, states the Mayo Clinic. The AAP advises parents not to use car seats more than 10 years old. Age limitations for car seats ensure that children do not ride in outdated car seats that do not adhere to current safety standards.
Place the car seat in its original box, if possible, to protect it from dust and debris. Seal the box. If you do not have a large enough box, wrap a large sheet or blanket around the car seat to keep it clean.
Store the car seat in a cool and dry location away from excess moisture and drastic temperature changes. Excess heat or freezing temperatures could cause damage to plastic parts of the seat, which could lead to structural damage.
Inspect the car seat after you remove it from storage. Look for indications of damage, including mold or decay. Clean the car seat well before using by shaking it out, vacuuming the crevices and wiping down all hard plastic surfaces.
Accept a used car seat with extreme caution, advises KidsHealth. If you receive or purchase a used car seat, you may not be able to verify its age and condition. A car seat involved in even a minor car accident can receive invisible structural damage that could reduce its safety performance.