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January 2017 – Safety Article

Car Seats and Winter Coats Don’t Mix!

As winter rages on, and we continue to bundle up our children while we’re out and about around town, there are some important things to remember about car seat safety, specifically in the winter time.

  • A winter coat should never be worn under the harness straps of a car seat. In a crash, the force of the crash can cause the coat to compress, making the car seat ineffective in the crash and potentially ejecting the child from their car seat.
  • For a car seat to offer the maximum protection in a crash, the harness or seat belt needs to be as close to the child as possible.
  • Try the pinch test: try grasping the strap of the car seat while the child is buckled. If you can grasp any material and pinch it, the strap is too loose.
  • To test whether a coat is too bulky to wear while buckled, put the coat on the child, and then buckle them in their seat as you normally would. Then, without loosening the straps, have the child get out and remove their coat. Then sit them back in their seat and buckle the straps, without loosening or tightening the straps. If the straps can be pinched as mentioned above, the coat is too bulky for the child to wear while buckled in their car seat. Some coats can add an extra 4 inches of slack to the harness. That is a large amount for something that is supposed to restrain a child!

There are a few simple things you can do to keep your kids safe in the winter time, while still keeping them warm in the car.

  • Put your child in their car seat without their coat on, buckle them in as usual, and then put their coat on backwards over the car seat straps.
  • Keep warm blankets in the car to cover them up with after safely buckling them in their seats.
  • For carrier-type car seats, a “shower cap style” car seat cover is best. This type of cover does not interfere with the harness straps, and it is easily removed if baby gets too warm.
  • Anything that takes up space in the car seat between the child and the straps is a no-no. This includes something behind the child.

Doing these simple things and taking the extra few minutes to take coats off while in the car and putting coats back on once you’re ready to get out of the car can literally be the difference between life and death if in an accident. Stay safe and stay warm this winter!
References:

Hello Winter, Good-bye Coats!


http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2012/12/winter-coats-and-car-seats-keeping-your-child-safe-and-warm/index.htm

Keep Kids WARM AND SAFE in the Car Seat