It's winter, which means that for many of us, our entryways are stuffed with heavy winter coats, hats, mittens, and boots. But while we want to stay as warm as possible when we head outside, getting our kids into car seats with all that bulky material is a big danger to their safety.
Child car seats don't react the same way as adult seat belts do when in a car accident. They aren't meant to move around and then lock into place on impact, but to always be fitted securely against the child. Failure to do so can lead to spinal damage, head injury, and death. When we place a child in a car seat with a bulky jacket on, the car seat straps aren't able to be pulled tightly enough to the child's body. They feel tight, but in an accident, the jacket or coat will compress, leaving a gap between the straps and your child's body.
LeeAnn Mortensen with North Memorial Medical Center and Safe Kids NW Metro Minneapolis demonstrates the problems with bulky winter gear in this news clip.
Just over a year ago, the dangers of puffy winter coats got the attention of producers at The Today Show, as well. However, parents across the country are still making the mistake of buckling their child in with a coat on.
If you have been making this dangerous mistake, we've got ways for you to keep your child warm and cozy without risking their safety.
Start the Car Early
If you have your car parked outside, use a remote starter or head outside to start it a few minutes before you are going to leave the house. The car will have a chance to wake up to the cold weather and you won't be waiting for that heat to kick in while you're driving. Just don't do this if your car is parked inside, as you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Keep Blankets Handy
Keep some cozy winter blankets in the car to place over your children. Once they are buckled in, you can put the blanket on them to keep them warm no matter how chilly it is outside. These blankets will also be of good use if your car should break down and you have to wait for help to come without any heat running in the car. Your child can remove the blanket easily once they warm up.
Use Their Coats as Blankets
Once you take the coat off of your child to buckle them into their seat, you can put it aside, buckle them, and then place the coat over them like a blanket. Then, as long as they don't throw it across the car, it will be right there, warm and ready, for them to place back on when you arrive at your destination.
Get the Road Coat
This innovative coat allows you to buckle your child into their car seat, and then zip their coat right over the car seat harness.
For more details on how to keep your children safe in the car this winter, visit The Car Seat Lady for helpful Do's and Don'ts.