Child Car Seats and Winter Coats: A Dangerous Combination

b2ap3_thumbnail_car-seat-winter-coat-danger.jpgAs we turn the calendar to December, the long-expected cold weather has begun to descend upon the region. The days of shorts and t-shirts are gone for the year, replaced by frosty mornings requiring jackets, parkas, and layers of clothing, especially for those who spend significant time outdoors. Amid the effort to stay warm during the winter months, there are some unexpected dangers, particularly to children, as heavily insulated coats can prevent child car seats from working as designed in the event of a crash.

Securing Your Child Properly

Most child car seats are designed to keep a child from being thrown from the seat during a violent collision. They can only do so, however, if the harness that fits across the child’s body is secure and tight. The instructions included with such seats generally instruct parents to buckle the harness, then tighten the straps until it is impossible to pinch any of the webbing between their fingers. If there is any slack in the webbing, the harness is not tight enough and could allow the child to be thrown from the seat as the result of an accident.

Testing Your Child’s Coat

Bulky coats and parkas can create an illusion of safety. When a child is buckled into the seat while wearing a thick jacket, the harness may fit snugly over the jacket, but it may not be secure enough. Much of the jacket’s thickness is actually air, which compresses easily during a crash—possibly enough that the child could slip out of the seat at the worst possible time.

Safety advocates recommend testing whether your child can safely wear his or her winter coat while buckled in his or her car seat by following several easy steps:

  1. Have the child sit in the seat with his or her coat on and fasten the harness. Tighten the straps until there is no slack remaining and you cannot pinch any of the webbing with your fingers;
  2. Unbuckle the harness and remove the child, but do not loosen the straps;
  3. Remove the child’s coat and re-buckle him or her back into the seat. If there is now slack in the webbing or it can be pinched, the coat is too thick to be worn safely.

If you do not have a warm enough jacket that your child can safely wear in the car seat, you may need to buckle the child in without a jacket, then place the coat over his or her body backward, with his or arms through the armholes. You may also want to keep a thick blanket in the car to provide additional warmth. While it may take a few extra minutes to get going in the morning, nothing is more valuable than your child’s safety; your time is worth it.

Help for Injured Children

Few things in life are more tragic than a child who has been injured. If your son or daughter was hurt in a car accident, an experienced DuPage County personal injury attorney can help you explore your options for compensation. Call 630-920-8855 for a free consultation at Martoccio & Martoccio today.


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