- As the cold weather sets in, safety experts warn parents to refrain from loading a child into a car seat with a coat on no matter how low temperatures drop, because it poses serious risks.
- If a vehicle is involved in a crash, the padding on a child’s jacket can flatten out from the force, and leave extra space under the harness. A child is then vulnerable to slipping out, and getting ejected from the seat.
- One mother’s Facebook post last year went viral after she asked people to not judge parents when they see kids walking around outside without coats during the winter.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
On Thanksgiving alone this year, 3 million people will be hitting the roads, according to INRIX, a global mobility analytics company. As temperatures drop, safety experts are warning those travelling with children to make sure to not load them into car seats with their coats on – no matter how cold it gets.
Never load a child in a car seat with a coat on
While dressing a child in big, cosy layers before putting them into a car seat may seem like the logical thing to do, it can actually put their life at risk. If a vehicle is involved in a crash, the padding on a child’s jacket can flatten, and subsequently leave extra space under the harness. In that case, a child is then more vulnerable to slipping out, and getting ejected from the car seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Winter coats, and even bulky sweatshirts can cause the straps on the car seat to fit the child loosely,” Amber Rollins, director of Kids and Cars, a national organisation that aims to prevent automobile-related deaths of children, told Insider.
For tops, children will still be protected in a sweater, thermal-knit shirt or thin fleece. For added warmth, they can put on hats and gloves, and use a blanket with supervision. But nothing should be placed under a child’s body in the car seat or between her body and the harness straps, according to the AAP.
In a crash, padding on a jacket can loosen, and put the child at risk for getting ejected
Thanks to one mother’s helpful PSA on the topic last year, which went viral on Facebook, and was then shared on Reddit, thousands of parents got a swift education on the topic.
Nicky Campbell emphasised in her post how important it is to keep kids safe, even if that means forcing them to trek for a few moments in the cold from the door to the vehicle without a jacket on. She also urged passersby to not be so quick to judge parents.
In a viral Facebook post last year, a mother urged passersby to not judge parents if their children aren’t wearing coats
Campbell asked others to not just assume that a parent is a “monster” if their toddler is walking around without a jacket on. She delved into the recommendations against wearing jackets in car seats and how difficult it can be, even on a mild day, to load children in and out of a vehicle.
“Seriously it’s chaos,” Campbell wrote. “Cut parents some slack. We’re trying. We’re doing everything we can to make sure our kids are warm, while maintaining what’s left of our sanity.”
To ensure a child’s safety, they should be strapped securely. The rule of thumb is that an adult should not be able to pinch the straps of a child’s car seat harness. Being able to pinch the harness would mean there’s too much slack, and the straps should be tightened. The chest clip should also always be placed at armpit level, no lower.
Although the harness might feel snug against a winter coat, and seem to pass the pinch test, the force of impact could quickly loosen it up. A video produced by Today in 2015 offers an eye-opening visual as to how this frightening scenario can unfold in the event of a crash.
Some manufacturers have claimed to solve this issue by introducing such products as car seat coats and ponchos. But parents still need to dutifully investigate whether they conflict with any of the AAP’s car seat safety recommendations.
“Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of children in our country,” Rollins, of Kids and Cars, told Insider. “There is nothing more important than keeping your child safe in and around vehicles.”
- Read more:
- Italy now requires car seat alarms to prevent hot-car deaths in children, and the US may follow suit
- 12 ways to make travelling with your baby painless, from Serena Williams’ favourite car seat to a lightweight stroller
- Why a baby should never sleep in a car seat outside of a car
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