Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Did you know that bulky clothing and car seats are a dangerous combination?  Of course, now that winter is here, you want to bundle your kids up warmly against the cold but a thick jacket and a car seat is a no no!

A 2013 study by the American Academy of Paediatrics found that what children wear in the car could have a negative impact on their safety, should you have an accident.

“If you tighten your child’s harness around a thick coat, during a crash that coat will compress making the harness loose, leading to an increased risk of injury,” explains 1st for Women Insurance’s Executive Head, Robyn Farrell. “Therefore, your child should be dressed only in clothes that they would wear inside your house.  This way their harness can be securely fastened and be as snug as possible. Avoiding extra slack in the harness applies to children in booster seats as well.”

Farrell says that the problem with a “puffy” coat is that the harness may appear to be tight on the child when in fact, there’s too much space created by the soft fabric between the coat and the child.

“Properly harnessed means that the straps are coming from at or below the rear-facing child’s shoulders or at or above the forward-facing child’s shoulders. When properly harnessed, the plastic retainer or chest clip should be across the child’s chest at armpit level,” says Farrell. 

You can test this theory by doing the pinch test: Keep the big winter coat on and harness your child in their car seat.  Tighten your harness as you normally would for travel.  Then unbuckle the harness, and without loosening, take your child out of the car seat.  Remove their jacket and place them back in the car seat – buckling the harness once more. It needs to be checked for tightness.  When buckled, you should not be able to pinch the webbing at the shoulder. When the harness is snug, your fingers should just slide off the harness as you try to pinch it together. Chances are – you will need to tighten your harness even more to get it as snug as it needs to be to properly fit your child. If you cannot get a sufficient tightness with a very bulky coat, try using a less dense jacket.

Here are some ways to safely transport children in the cold weather while still keeping them warm.

  • The first rule of thumb when you buckle your child up is that you don’t want them wearing anything more than what they’d be wearing indoors, such as a sweatshirt or a jersey.
  • Ideally, you need to dress infants and young children in thinner layers, like a tight fitting jacket and tuck a coat or a blanket around them over the buckled harness straps if needed.
  • Always make sure that your child is snug in their car seat. 
  • Use the pinch test to check for tightness. 
  • Turn the coat around and put it on backward with their arms through the arm holes and the back of the coat acting like a blanket
  • You should never place anything underneath your child in the car seat – or between your child and the harness.  This includes their winter jacket!

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