Did you know that you should remove coats and bulky outerwear before harnessing your child into their car seat? With this week’s cold snap, it is a good reminder for parents to remember that what your child wears may have an impact on their safety in a crash.
It is always important to make sure your child is snug in their car seat. When properly harnessed, the plastic retainer or chest clip should be across the child’s chest at arm pit level. Use the pinch test to check for tightness – do this by trying to pinch the harness fabric together near the child’s shoulders. When the harness is snug, your fingers should just slide off the harness as you try to pinch it together.
You should never place anything underneath your child in the car seat – or between your child and the harness. This includes their winter jacket!
Bulky clothing may compress during a crash. So, if you tighten your child’s harness around a thick coat, during a crash that coat will compress making the harness loose. Your child should be dressed in only the clothes they would wear inside your house. This way their harness can be securely fastened and as snug as possible.
Think this is all a bunch of hooey invented by car seat techs to make your life even more challenging when getting into the car? Here is a quick test:
Go ahead and 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. Now use the pinch test (above) to check the harness for tightness. 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.
So what now? For infants and young children, leave a couple of blankets in the car and have them ready to place over your child after they are securely buckled in their car seat. Toddlers and older children might think it is fun to wear their coats backwards – placing their arms through the sleeves.
Going on a long winter road trip? Don’t forget to get your car seat checked! There are approximately 35,000 car seat technicians all across the country ready to assist you. Locally, you can contact Children’s Hospital to schedule an individual appointment. Outside of Middle Tennessee go to www.safekids.org to find a tech near you.
For more child passenger safety tips, visit: www.childrenshospital.vanderbilt.org/carseats