Buckle Before Bulk

posted by Angel Smith on Friday, December 8, 2017

Winter is here and cold blustery days will now be the norm. Do you find yourself wondering how safe your child is in their car seat with that bulky winter coat?  

It seems logical to bundle your child in the warmest coat possible.  But puffy coats are not the safest option. The harness or seat belt needs to be as close to the child as possible to prevent injury or even ejection from the vehicle in the event of a crash.  That cute, puffy coat simply creates too much slack in the harness.  This standard applies to everyone in the car.  That means adults too!

There are other ways to keep safe and warm while in the car.  Here are a few suggestions that won’t interfere with the harness or seatbelt:

  • Blanket, Hat and Mittens - Simple, right? Secure your infant in their harnessed car seat and/or your older child in their booster or seat belt.  Add a nice, warm blanket. Presto!  A safe and warm alternative to the heavy coat.
  • Fleece - A great option may be a thin, yet insulating fleece jacket that fits well and does not add any extra bulk.
  • Car Seat Covers - These are nice for infant seats as long as they are the “shower cap” style that doesn’t interfere with the harness.
  • Backwards Coat - Here’s another simple trick. Put the child’s jacket on backwards after they’re secured in their seat.

Here are a few more tips to make sure your child is always safe in their car seat, regardless of the weather:

  • Rear face until age two. Rear facing infants and toddlers are safest when in a crash because there is less forward movement of their head and neck.
  • One inch rule. Car seat should not move more than one inch from side to side or front to back.
  • Chest clip at armpit level. This is a commonly observed misuse. Also, you should not be able to pinch any harness webbing after your child is buckled in.
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors & Tethers for CHildren) or seat belt but not both.  The seat belt and LATCH system are both acceptable methods of securing the car seat.  It is important to know that they have both been crash tested. One is not better than the other. Make sure you are using LATCH correctly by checking your vehicle’s owner manual and to see what the maximum weight limit is for its use.
  • No one car seat is safer than another. Every car seat made in the United States must pass the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The safest car seat is the one that fits your child’s weight and height, fits in the vehicle properly, and is used correctly every time. 

Is your precious cargo safe?  When in doubt, have your seats checked by a local certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.  Call 712-264-6380 to set up an appointment for a FREE car seat check!

About The Author

Angel Smith

Angel is the Director of Clay County Public Health. She is passionate about serving the community.