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Graco recalls 1.9 million infant car seats due to harness buckles issue

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Graco is recalling 1.9 million of infant car seats to resolve complaints that several consumers found it difficult to open the harness buckles installed on some infant car seats, and to submit to its safety discussions with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Manufacturer Newell Rubbermaid, which supplies the said seat buckles, also confirmed the recall in a statement on July 1.

“In reviewing the matter further with NHTSA, we found that an older buckle design used on select infant car seats was difficult to open. Although they might look the same from the outside, the other buckles used on our infant car seats have been mechanically redesigned to make them easier to open,” Ashley Mowrey, public relations and consumer engagement manager in Graco, said in a blog post.

As replacement, Mowrey adds that Graco will provide free buckles to any of its consumers who have car seats for infants not applicable to the recall but will want to update existing buckles to new designs in Graco’s lineup.

Newell Rubbermaid said the harness buckles for recall are those infant car seats produced between July 2010 and May 2013.

"We are pleased to have reached a resolution of the infant car seat buckle investigation with NHTSA, consistent with the financial assumptions we communicated with our first quarter earnings announcement. We remain focused on growing the Graco brand and driving the Growth Game Plan into action to transform Newell Rubbermaid into a larger, faster growing, more profitable and more global company,” Michael Polk, president and CEO of Newell Rubbermaid, said in a statement.

The costs of said recall were accumulated in Newell Rubbermaid’s sales results in the first quarter, any impact thereafter is being considered immaterial to the company.

For customers to determine if the harness buckle on their Graco infant car seats is part of the recall, simply enter the name of the car seat model and manufacturing date on GracoBuckleRecall.com. To request for a buckle replacement, customers should complete the online form. Graco will ship the replacement kit for free in the summer of 2014.

“While waiting for replacement buckles, Graco car seats equipped with affected buckles are safe to use. If your buckle becomes sticky, we recommend cleaning it by following the instructions available on GracoBuckleRecall.com as this will make it much easier to use,” Mowrey said.

Graco also made an earlier recall of 4.2 million toddler seats for the same reasons, but rejected that the buckle poses safety risks. Research, however, reveals that food and beverages can stick up these buckles, making it difficult for parents to remove their children from the car seats. There were cases when parents cut the harnesses to take their children off their seats. The NHTSA argued that this intensifies the possible risk of injuries in children, especially in emergencies.

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