We received an email asking us what to do with a car seat once it has expired. This is a great question and is the perfect follow-up for the "Do car seats have expiration dates?" post. Thanks Kim B. for the question.
It's important to ensure that the seat is not reused by any parent for their child. One effective way to do this is to remove the harness and dispose of it separately. Remove the padding, break it up and throw it out separately, as well. Finally, use a permanent marker to write NOT SAFE FOR USE in large print in several locations on the shell.
We have heard some people suggest that parents break up the shell with heavy tools. Safety Squad doesn't recommend this. We don't want anyone hurting themselves trying to destroy car seats. Seats can be difficult to destroy and tools can take high levels of skill to use safely. Not to mention, flying metal and plastic can cause serious injury.
Perhaps, you can drop the shell off at a recycling center in your community. We checked in Chicago and car seats are not listed among their accepted items. Maybe your community actually has a plan to accept retired car seats. Call your local government's information line for answers.
If you are so inclined... the best way to ensure that the seat is totally destroyed is to watch the garbage truck crush it on trash day. Short of that, double bag it with heavy duty trash bags and tie it securely before throwing it in the garbage. The idea is to make it hard for people picking through the trash to resurrect your dead seat.
We realize this seems like a lot of work...and it is, but your efforts can actually save a child's life.