Warning from IWK’s Child Safety Link leads to swift response

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A warning about fake car seats being sold online sent out to parents and caregivers by Child Safety Link (CSL), the injury prevention program at the IWK Health Centre, has had a positive and immediate effect.

CSL’s warning was picked up by local media and broadcast nationally, triggering a swift response from consumer advocates. One such body, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), the voice of the industry on quality and safety for baby and children’s products, will be facilitating meetings with North American car seat manufacturers. Counterfeit seats and ways of eliminating them from the market will be on the agenda. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will also be exploring the issue in their next meeting with manufacturers.

A report was also filed with Health Canada and Transport Canada shared evidence with CSL of how unsafe these products are.

Retailers were also quick to respond. One outlet will be refunding all customers who purchased the product, and calling them individually to warn them not to use the device. A representative of the company assured CSL it would never happen again and provided their direct contact info so that CSL could quickly report should any other unsafe child items pop up on the site.

“I was hoping that the safeguards Canada has in place around the importation and sale of car seats would have prevented me from receiving this item,” said Katherine Hutka, CSL’s car seat specialist. “When it arrived in my mailbox, I knew we had to bring awareness to this issue so that no family will unknowingly place their trust in a dangerous product like this.”

The particular product received by CSL looks very different from a legitimate car seat. Other fake products currently being sold online do more closely imitate a real car seat. Car seats that are certified and legal for use in Canada are engineered and tested to meet high Canadian standards for how they will perform in a motor vehicle collision.

The IWK is concerned about the safety of children whose parents may be unaware they have purchased a counterfeit safety device.

“Motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of fatal injury to children in Canada,” says Hutka, “and we know that a legitimate, properly-used car seat can reduce that risk by up to 71 per cent. Counterfeit devices like this are not legal to sell or use in Canada, because they will not protect a child in the event of a collision.”

Caregivers are invited to visit www.childsafetylink.ca for child passenger safety information for every age and stage of child, including helpful fact sheets on each kind of car seat, checklists and instructional videos.