Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Safety Alert: Winter Coats and Car Seats

This is a bit off topic for my blog (sorry for the bold print won't change), but before so many of my readers head "over the river and through the woods", I wanted to share some really important information about car seats and winter coats with you. So many people aren't aware of these safety precautions, including myself until Tyler's second winter. Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 overall cause of death for children 14 and under and I hate to see a child hurt or killed when it could so easily be prevented.

The following tips on how to keep your child safe has been taken from sources such as The Department of Public Health, Car Seat Technicians as well as pediatric and hospital websites.  

It's not safe to put thick coats, snowsuits or blankets under the harness straps of a car seat because the straps need to stay snug on the child to function properly. Winter coats and heavy snowsuits change the way the child fits into the seat and they actually compress in a crash, which can create a lot of extra slack. This can easily cause your child to be ejected from the car seat in a crash or injured. The straps must remain tight on the child's shoulders regardless of any clothing. There are so many horror stories of infants and small children killed or seriously injured when ejected, even found outside of the car having gone through windows, their coats and snowsuits often still sitting in the car set. Car seats are only safe if you're following guidelines and the appropriate safety measures.

Tips for infants:
Bring your infant carrier car seat into the house after each use. It is actually unsafe to put young infants into a cold car seat as they can't regulate their body temperature well. Warm up the car when possible then dress the infant in warm, normal clothing like long pants and a sweatshirt. Buckle him or her into the infant seat and cover the entire seat with a blanket, tucking in the sides around the baby. Then you can put other blankets over the top as needed. Make sure nothing is behind baby's back! Many of the baby buntings and covers, though they say they're safe, are unregulated and often don't meet safety guidelines.

Tips For older infants, toddlers and kids in booster seats:
Warm up your car if you can before buckling them in their seat. Take their coats off before buckling them into the car seat. Once the harness is snug, put their coat back on them backwards over their arms or use blankets over them, never under. Polar fleece jackets often work okay with car seats, so think about this when buying a coat for your child. Lands End also sells a thin winter coat. If you can't warm your car ahead of time, carry the child outside wrapped in a blanket with a fleece coat underneath, or put them in both fleece and their winter coat, removing the winter coat once in the car.

For a really good look at why car seats and coats don't mix, I highly suggest the video below. It easily demonstrates how much slack is left when a coat compresses in a crash. 

Car seat safety is something that's very imortant to me and I'm grateful for a place to share this information. Tyler also will ride rear facing until he is uncomfortable or outgrows the rear facing limits of his seat [Why?]. Thanks for reading.  Happy holidays and safe, happy traveling to you all!


  1. Great advice! You're right, a lot of people aren't aware of the problems winter coats can cause, but they definitely should be informed!

  2. Very timely post for holiday travelers, Jen!

  3. What a great video demonstration!!