PEI

Beware of fake car seats available online, child safety expert warns

The injury prevention program at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax is warning parents and caregivers to be extra-vigilant about buying child car seats online because of an "alarming" trend of illegal, counterfeit car seats.

Child Safety Link at IWK Health Centre asks parents to be extra-vigilant about 'alarming' trend

Child Safety Link, the injury prevention program at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, is warning parents and caregivers about the availability online of illegitimate car seats (not pictured). (Maria Sbytova/Shutterstock)

The injury prevention program at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax is warning parents and caregivers to be extra-vigilant about buying child car seats online because of an "alarming" trend of illegal, counterfeit car seats.

Katherine Hutka, a car seat specialist with Child Safety Link, said the program is aware of several recent instances where fake car seats were being illegally sold in the U.S. and Canada through major online retailers. 

"It is an alarming trend which is becoming more widespread, with these counterfeit products being sold by third party vendors on otherwise reputable sites, often under different product names," CSL said in a statement.

Hutka ordered a counterfeit seat for $35 earlier this month and received it this week.

'There was not even a name or a label on the product'

"I got something in a really flat plastic bag," she said told CBC P.E.I.'s Island Morning host Mitch Cormier. "There was no box. There were no instructions. There was not even a name or a label on the product.

"It kind of looks like a mesh, maybe something you might put on a restaurant chair to prevent a child from falling onto the floor. But it definitely does not resemble what we'd expect a car seat to look like."

The IWK is concerned about children's safety, particularly in cases where the car seat more closely resembles an actual, approved product.

Hutka listed a number of details for parents and caregivers to watch out for when buying car seats.

Before buying, consider:

  • The store. If buying from a large online retailer, make sure the item is being sold directly through the retailer and not a third-party vendor.
  • The brand. Look for a company you recognize.
  • Reviews and ratings. See what other people are saying. 
  • Price. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Once your car seat arrives, there's another checklist to consider.

"We'd expect a legitimate car seat to arrive in a box," she said. "It should have labelling on the car seat, warning labels in English and in French. We're going to look for a national safety mark, which is a maple leaf with a circle around it. And that would be present on any child car seat that has been certified to meet Canadian standards to be legal for the sale and use in Canada. And you'd want to also find a product manual and a registration card."

No reported cases on P.E.I.

Fortunately, fake car seats don't seem to be a big problem on P.E.I. so far.

A spokesperson with the P.E.I.'s Transportation Department said it hasn't encountered any fake seats or reports about fake seats.

The government's highway safety officers, who are certified to check and install child car seats, say the more common issues are seats that are expired or ones that are missing their national safety mark due to wear. 

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With files from Island Morning

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