Did you hear the latest about a recall of child safety seats; Graco is recalling nearly 3.8 million car safety seats because children can get trapped by buckles that may not unlatch.  But the company has drawn the ire of federal safety regulators who say the recall should include another 1.8 million rear-facing car seats designed for infants.

The recall covers 11 models made from 2009 through 2013 by Graco Children’s Products Inc. of Atlanta.  It’s the fourth-largest child seat recall in U.S. history, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The agency warned that the problem could make it “difficult to remove the child from the restraint, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a vehicle crash, fire or other emergency.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also criticized Graco in a sternly-worded letter saying the recall excludes seven infant car seat models with the same buckles.  Both the company and the NHTSA have received complaints from consumers, about stuck buckles on the infant seats.  It is reported that in some incidences the straps on the car seat had to be sliced apart in order to free the child.

The agency wants Graco to identify the total number of seats that potentially have the defect and explain why it excluded the infant seats.  The NHTSA, which began investigating the seats in October of 2012, said the investigation remains open.  The agency said it could hold a public hearing and require Graco to add the infant seats.

Graco, a division of Atlanta-based Newell Rubbermaid, stated that its own tests found that food or beverages can make the harness buckles in the children’s seats sticky and harder to use over time.  This is the same reason that the company is attempting to exclude the rear facing infant seats because of their claim that infants do not get food or drinks on their respective seats.  At no time does the company admit or address the possibility that these same buckles may just wear out over time due to continued use.

The company has issued cleaning tips for the buckles, and began sending replacement buckles to owners last summer.  Graco is also sending instructions for how to replace the buckles and posting a video on its website to show parents how to replace them.

In documents sent to the NHTSA, Graco estimated that less than 1 percent of the seats involved in the recall have had buckles that were stuck or difficult to unlatch.  The company claims that there have been no reported injuries due to the defect.

If parents have a child or infant car seat made by Graco, parents should check and inspect all buckles for ease of operation and if any defective or hard to open buckles are found, you should immediately contact Graco for replacement buckles.  Parents were also urged to use another safety seat until the defective one can be fixed.

The NHTSA also accused the company of the attempted use of incomplete and misleading information to discount the seriousness of the safety risk presented by this defect.  It also threatened to file a lawsuit if the company continues to downplay the seriousness of this situation.

There is also a report that these same brand of buckles may be used on other brands of child and infant safety seats so parents need to be vigilant and if you are having issues with the buckles on your brand of car seat, I would recommend that you contact that company.

The last thing we need is for a child to be harmed because they could not be removed from a car seat.  But, that is why you should have readily available a type of instrument with a blade to readily cut the straps in the case of an accident.