There are many things I am passionate about in life and particularly passionate about as a mother. Car seat safety is one of them. If you follow me on Twitter you’ve probably seen one of my tweets trying to educate parents about not putting winter jackets on their kids while harnessed into their car seats. A lot of parents don’t know the dangers of having their children wear big winter coats while in their car seats, and I want to tell you all about how to do this safely and why.
Living anywhere with winter as a season, it’s a natural instinct to want to dress up our children warmly. But, many of us don’t know that we can be doing much more harm than good. You see, what a lot of people don’t realize is that the winter jacket creates a dead space between your child and their harness. Even if you pull on the straps and think you’ve gotten them as tight as you can…you haven’t. I’ll let my pictures speak for themselves:
The picture on the left is Braden wearing his winter jacket in his car seat. I literally pulled on the straps as hard as I could. It even passed the “finger” test (see below). On the right, I did not adjust the strap settings…and to look at it, he looks pretty safe, right? WRONG. Please look below at how unsafe it really is!
But this, is what you don’t see looking straight on:
If you can fit your whole arm under the harness, consider it absolutely NOT safe!
As you can see, there is clearly WAY too much room when I take Braden’s jacket off, between him and the straps. In a high-impact crash, he could very easily come flying out of his car seat with his winter jacket on in that setting and I don’t want to even know what injury or even worse, could happen to my precious boy. I’ve seen the result of winter jackets + car seats + car accidents on the operating room table when I used to be a pediatric nurse in the OR.
This is so preventable – so let’s be safe with our kids in their car seats! (This also applies to babies in infant car seats too!)
So what can you do in the cold winter temperatures with your kids?
- Let your vehicle warm up for awhile
- Put a thin fleece jacket on for extra warmth
- Once your child is in their car seat, put their jacket on them…backwards (think like a Snuggie!)
- Put a blanket on your child
- When ready to leave the vehicle out into the cold, unstrap your child from their car seat, and then put their jacket on – we do this routinely with both kids
- Always have a bag with toques, mittens, blankets in case of an emergency—so many parents worry that if an accident might happen their child might freeze, this way you will have everything you need and your child will still be safely secured in their seats
This is not to belittle any of you who currently do this with your kids. So many parents have no clue why it’s so unsafe to wear winter jackets in car seats. Now you know!
Warm and Safe – The Car Seat Lady