So much of a parent’s life is focused on keeping our kiddos healthy and safe. Today we’re talking about the dangers of buckling children into car seats while they’re wearing their heavy winter coats.
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t do it!
A parent’s natural inclination when taking a baby or small kiddo outside in the winter, is to have them bundled up against the elements, but did you know, were you aware, that harnessing a child into their car seat while they’re wearing a winter coat or bulky outerwear could be putting their life in danger?
Yes, putting their life in danger. That’s not overstated hyperbole, but simply fact.
Let’s start with Consumer Reports’ article: The Dangers of Winter Coats and Car Seats
Consumer Reports did some checking and they state that as a general rule coats should not be worn while a child is harnessed in a car seat. They gave these steps as guidelines to see if your child’s coat is too bulky to be worn in the harness.
- Put the coat on your child, sit them in the child seat and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the harness webbing with your thumb and forefinger.
- Without loosening the harness, remove your child from the child seat.
- Take the coat off, and put your child back in the child seat and buckle the harness straps, which are still adjusted as they were when he was wearing the coat.
- If you can now pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness.
That’s an easy enough way to check, right? Another site said if it’s easier, bring the car seat indoors to do the test. Make it a game! That way everyone is comfortable and you can take your time to get the test right.
I know some will balk at the idea of not having a coat or heavy outerwear on baby when placing them in a car seat, but read what Jen Ellis, a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, had to say about what she learned during training:
“When I took my tech class we were shown a picture of an infant seat with a snowsuit under the harness,” she says. “The seat was pulled out of a car that had just been in a crash. The infant was ejected from the seat and the car and was found some feet away from the car, but the snowsuit was left in the seat just as the baby was wearing it.”
Ellis says other parents can learn a valuable car seat safety lesson from this real life crash story. “It’s a great example of what can happen in a crash if the straps are not tight enough and if a thick blanket or coat is under the harness,” she says. “The harness must stay close to the child’s body at all times.”
Terrifying. If that doesn’t scare you straight, I honestly don’t know what will.
That leaves us with a cold whippersnapper buckled in a car seat. We can’t have that, can we? Here are a few things to do after you have them properly and safely buckled in:
* Put their jacket on them, by placing their arms through the sleeves backwards. Fun!
* A toasty blanket can be worn over the harness and tucked in (although, make sure nothing is behind baby/small child).
* Dress child in layers.
The best site I have found for child car seat safety is The Car Seat Lady. Click on THIS PAGE for an exhaustive how-to on dressing kiddos safely for car seats in the winter. Kuddos Car Seat Lady!
Education is key with this issue. Many caregivers have no idea that they are putting their tiny charges in possible mortal danger each time they buckle them into their car seat while wearing a coat. Car seats give us peace of mind; they keep our family members safe. To discover this information after the fact of a deadly crash is horrifying to consider. Pass this article along to one other person and ask them to do the same. Be that ripple in the lifesaving pond.
Let’s keep our kiddos safe, y’all!
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