MADISON, Ala. - In the state of Alabama, safety seats are required for children until they reach 4'9" tall. That usually happens when the child reaches 8-12 years of age. But their first car seat, shouldn't be used for that long.
Car seats do have expiration dates but Madison Fire and Rescue recommends replacing them after five years.
"The UV rays from the sun can weaken plastic. It's just like if you have something plastic that's sitting in your attic for a long time and it gets brittle and can break," said Zac Tanner of Madison Fire and Rescue. "It won't be able to flex like a new car seat could if that plastic was new."
Not only do car seats expire because of deteriorating materials. We also see the safety regulations change over time.
When those standards change, its time to get rid of them.
That's why safety officials say consumers should be careful when buying or selling any used car seat.
Facebook Marketplace is a frugal mom's dream when it comes to car seats especially when you can purchase one for a fraction of an in-store price or make a few bucks off an old one.
Madison Fire says that's a no go.
"A lot of people buy a car seat or sell them at yard sales, but we don't suggest doing that because you don't know where the car seat has come from, what it been through," said Tanner.
For instance, if a car is in a wreck, the car seats inside are supposed to be replaced. Sometimes insurance companies will cover that cost.
In the meantime, Madison Fire officials want parents to know there are free resources for brand new seats.
Madison County residents can call 2-1-1 to inquire about programs that provide car seats free of charge.
Buying new can be a bit on the pricey side so Target stores are asking people to recycle them at their store for a discount on a brand new one. Area stores will recycle old seats until May 4.
Madison Fire and Rescue will also inspect your current car seat's installment for free, if you call ahead and schedule an appointment. Huntsville Hospital will do the same.