Coats Off & Buckle Up!

Happy January 2015! New year, not-so-new weather. It’s cold, really, really cold! In many parts of the country, we are seeing temperatures dipping to forty below zero. Of course, if you are spending time outdoors in cold weather, wearing heavy coats is a necessity but if you are traveling in your car, be wary of keeping heavy coats on you and your children.  When your child rides in his or her car seat wrapped in a heavy winter coat, the harness will not protect them properly.  It can also make them feel confined, hot and uncomfortable.  Snow and ice make roads slippery and unsafe which can make crashes more likely, even on short trips close to home.   Here is why it’s important to take coats off and buckle up:

  • Harness and seat belt webbing secures an occupant in the vehicle during a crash. Belt webbing “likes” bone. This is why it is necessary for the belts to fit across the strongest bones in our bodies. Seat belts and harness webbing not only keep us from being ejected in a crash, but they also help with “ride down”, allowing the crash forces to spread across the strongest parts of the body. This is important in order to reduce injuries and death. While you may think you have a harness snug enough, the winter coat prevents the harness from actually making close contact with the body.
  • It can be frustrating getting your little one all bundled up, only to take everything off when you get into the car. Your toddler probably doesn’t like it either. There are products on the market that help keep kids warm and safe and make transitioning into the car seat a lot easier during the cold weather. You can check out CozyWoggle, which was designed by a mom who fights Old Man Winter every year. Another option is to have your child wear a thin fleece jacket and wrap your child up in a blanket when walking out to the car. Once you have them strapped in, throw the blanket on top since it won’t interfere with the harness.

Safely Dress Babies & Toddlers in Car Seats

Remember, proper fit for a harness means snug and comfortable and you cannot pinch the webbing at the collar bone. The shoulder/lap belt on an adult or a child in a booster seat should fit snug and comfortable. Adults and older children should unbutton their coats when wearing a seat belt. Be sure the lap belt is low on the hips/high on the thighs and the shoulder portion on the center of the collar bone. If you are pregnant, rules stay the same.

More winter safety tips since you never know when bad weather might leave you stranded:

  1. Keep your gas tank filled up.
  2. Place a safety supply kit in the car.
  3. Make sure you have the proper tires on your car or that your treads are still in good shape.
  4. Be sure to pack up blankets, food, water, diapers, wipes, etc. for emergencies and always keep it in the trunk.
  5. Carry an extra charge pack for your cell phone, too.

Even if you are just going a few miles from home, always be prepared. Stay safe and stay warm!

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