Winter warning – jackets and car seats can be deadly
Winter brings cold weather and potentially slick roads, but many families still need to travel. But bundling up children to keep warm can also be dangerous when you put them in a car seat.
Emily Thomas knows. Not only does she have adoctorate in pediatric injury biomechanics, she’s also a mom to two-year-old Micha.
“I also do the daycare drop off every morning and I know that it can be really annoying and kind of inconvenient to have to remove their coats to put them into their car seats. But I will tell it is really important to their safety and we do want them to be as safe as we can in their car seat,” said Thomas, Consumer Reports car seat expert.
In winter, the extra bulk of a puffy winter coat can make the safety seat harness too loose to properly secure your child in a crash.
In a crash, if a child is wearing a coat, all that puffiness of the coat would compress, leaving extra room. That gives the child additional room to potentially move outside the safety of his car seat, which could increase his risk of injury.
There’s an easy way to check if your child’s coat is too puffy or bulky. First, secure your child in the car seat wearing a coat so there is no slack in the harness straps. Then remove the jacket and put the child back in the seat. If the straps are loose, there’s a problem.
“I know that it can be challenging, but the sooner you start with these types of safety practices the sooner it becomes the norm, so now he’s used to taking his coat off, he doesn't even like to wear his coat under his harness - he’s the one who takes his coat off,” explained Thomas.
But you don’t want them to get cold either. So secure them in the seat and put a blanket or coat on top. For larger kids put their coat sleeves on backwards after they’re secured.
Consumer Reports says that in addition to not having your child wearing a coat in the car, it’s important to always make sure that your child is properly harnessed. You shouldn't be able to pinch togehter any of the fabric of the harness straps, if you can they're not pulled snug enough. Also the chest clip should always be at armpit level.