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New vs Used: Buying Used Items Can be Hazardous to your Health and Safety

Buying used items can be cost-effective but how far do you go when it comes to the safety of your child?
Everyone knows children are expensive and many times people look for ways to cut costs like shopping at second hand stores. Parents need to be aware of some items that can be very dangerous items if not purchased in mint condition. Buying new clothes, toys and safety equipment get expensive. Thrift stores and sites like craigslist are popular for re-selling items but how far should you go when it comes to safety?

Cribs, strollers and car seats are items that can cost a parent hundreds of dollars each if purchased new. These are all items found on various lists of things you should always buy new. The biggest item to be aware of is car seats.

“I often see the parent has gotten a seat from a friend or they’ve gotten a seat like at a garage sale,” said Carmen De Bruce, the Outreach Director of Lutheran Children’s Hospital and certified Child Passenger Technician.

“That causes a problem because the parent does not know the history of that seat. When they buy that at the garage sale and put the child in it really their child is not as safe as their child should be," she said.

“They don’t know if that seat was involved in a car crash or if it was in the car even if there was no one in the seat. The seat can have micro fractures that the parent cannot see,” said De Bruce.

If you've purchased a used car seat before, there's more to think about than just its history.

“Seats expire,” she said. “The majority of car seats expire after six years from the date of manufacture and so if the parent turns the seat over, you can see the date of manufacture. Some seats will actually tell you the expiration date.”

Several used items are a liability for second-hand stores. Kathy Hackworth is the owner of “Once Upon a Child” on Coldwater Rd. The store buys used children’s items.

"We do not accept car seats and we never have,” said Hackworth. “For safety reasons, if items don’t have all of their original parts and pieces we cant take them. Any recalled items are rejected even if they're retrofitted even if they had a repair done to them.”

Strollers and cribs can also be so dangerous that the store has to turn most of them away.

“There was a lot of recalls several years ago and cribs have basically been completely redesigned,” said Hackworth. “So for safety reasons we cant take anything that they have deemed recalled or needing to be retrofitted.”

Although it’s likely you won’t find these used items in stores, it doesn’t stop people from searching and buying them from yard sales and websites like Craigslist. A recent search of the Fort Wayne Craigslist ‘Baby and Kids’ section, shows hundreds of posts from this week. High chairs, cribs and plenty of car seats can all be found.

Other items that can be a safety or health hazard are things like shoes, hats and swimwear. They can all be found in second-hand stores but if you decide to purchase them, it’s up to you to make sure it’s clean. If you’re a Craigslist shopper then it always helps to at least check the Consumer Protection Safety Council for recalls and safety education at CPSC.gov.

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