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Winter Car Seat Safety

Life In Texas: Winter Car Seat Safety

Monday, December 5, 2011

Winter Car Seat Safety

Thing 2 in her car seat
     This evening, I took my children out in the 50 degree weather. But, being an educated mother, I know how to safely transport my children in cold weather.

     When we arrived at our destination, a stranger noticed that neither of my kids were wearing coats as the exited their car seats. I opened one of the van's sliding doors just enough for me to reach my children, unbuckled them and proceeded to put their coats on them. Apparently, this was not acceptable to this stranger and she said as much. She said my kids mush have been "freezing" and that was an "awful thing to do to those babies" (keep in mind, they're 4 and 2.5, they could tell me if they were unhappy), as she removed her less than 2 year old from his forward facing seat in a thick winter coat. I took this as an opportunity to politely educate this woman on why my babies were safer without coats on.

     As it gets colder, I see more and more children buckled in with their coats on. It makes me scared for them (especially since some people down here forget how to drive when it's cold and/or raining, thus causing more accidents). I thought that I would take this opportunity to remind everyone of why we do NOT put out children in their car seats in their coats. Also, I'll offer a few safe alternatives.

     The reason that it is not safe to put a child into a harnessed car seat in a winter coat is that then the straps don't fit properly. The harness straps need to remain tight against your child. Regardless of what clothes your child is wearing, you should be able to slip no more than 2 fingers underneath the strap at your child's shoulder bone.

     Often, the next question people ask is "how can I keep my child comfortable if they can't wear their coat?" There are many simple (and safe) solutions to this problem.

  1.      If it is legal to do so in your state, start the car and turn on the heater a few minutes before taking your children out. This will give the car time to warm up.
  2.     Use warm garments that are safe to use in car seats. Long underwear and fleece jackets can be safely worn in a harnessed car seat.
  3.      Wrap the child in a blanket to get them to the car, then once they're buckled in, lay the blanket over their chest and legs.
  4.      Have your child wear their jacket to the car. Once you get there, get in the car and remove the child's jacket. Once the child is properly buckled, put the jacket on backwards.

     There are a few things you can do if you are unsure if your child's coat or jacket is safe for their car seat. Take the seat inside. Place the coat or jacket on the child and buckle them into the seat. Adjust the straps as needed so that your child fits in the seat. Take the child out of the seat without loosening the straps. Remove the coat. Put the child back in the seat but do not tighten the straps. If you can fit more than 2 fingers under the strap at your child's shoulder bone, then that coat or jacket is NOT safe.

     I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season. But most importantly, I hope that everyone keep their entire family safe.

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At December 5, 2011 at 10:34 PM , Blogger Alan said...

Oh if only I had half of the "guts" some people have with total strangers and the offering of advice.

Cute pic of T2, btw.

At December 12, 2011 at 7:51 AM , Blogger Shannon Quinn said...

My daughter is in a booster seat now, but this is very good to know!! Thank you! I live in PA and I have never heard talk about this, ever! Wow, I will pass it on!

At January 26, 2012 at 7:44 PM , Blogger Just a Girl said...

Yeah. Usually people aren't that bold. I guess she thought she was "protecting" my child.

And thanks!

At January 26, 2012 at 7:44 PM , Blogger Just a Girl said...

It seems like a lot of people don't know. I watch reality shows and there are children in thick winter coats strapped in. It makes me sad.


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