Why Winter Coats and Car Seats Don't Mix

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Winter Coats and Car Seats Don't Mix

Bitterly cold Michigan winters require exceptionally warm clothing for everyone, especially children. While every caring parent wants to dress their kids warmly before leaving the house, it is important to take off the puffy coats before strapping them in a car seat.

It goes against every parent’s protective nature, but science shows that heavy weather gear can prevent car seats from protecting children the way they should. Here are tips from experts on winter car seat safety.

Why Are Winter Coats Dangerous for Car Seats?

Winter coats, puffy coats, and snowsuits pose a potentially deadly situation when combined with your child’s car seat. Outerwear often has up to four inches of insulation inside, which flattens out when a child is jerked forward in a sudden stop. According to Safe Ride 4 Kids, an advocate for child safety, this can result in serious injury, including brain damage.

Additional research shows that if the harness across the chest becomes too loose, a child can even be ejected from the car seat.
Disturbingly, estimates suggest that 65 percent of parents do not remove their child’s jacket before placing them in the car seat. This means that an enormous number of children are at risk, riding in car seats that do not keep them secured properly.

What Should My Baby Wear in a Car Seat?

Fortunately, there are car-seat-friendly coats and other ways to keep children warm and safe while driving in winter. Experts advise that parents should dress their child in nothing thicker than a sweatshirt. They recommend that when warmer, thicker clothes are needed on cold days, they should be placed around the child but outside the car seat.
Here’s advice from Consumer Reports:

  • For a younger child, wrap a blanket over them after they’re fastened in the car seat.
  • Aftermarket covers are a good option since they’ve been tested for safety.
  • For an older child, secure them in a car seat and turn their heavy coat around. Put their arms through the arms so the coat acts as a blanket atop the car seat harness.

Car Seat Safety Tips

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers the following tips for making life easier and safer in cold weather:

  • Check how tightly the harness fits your child before you leave. If you can pinch the straps, then they need to be tightened to fit more snugly against your child’s chest.
  • Dress your child in layers. Don’t forget a cap, mittens, socks, and booties to help preserve the child’s natural body warmth.
  • Store the infant carrier part of the car seat in the house. That way, your baby will lose less body heat when getting into a cold car.
  • Use a car seat cover only if it doesn’t go beneath your child. A cover that goes underneath the body can affect the placement of the straps, which are engineered to fit in a way that maximizes safety.

Call Our Experienced Injury Lawyers at Christensen Law

If the unthinkable happens and you or your child are injured in a car accident, contact the personal injury attorneys in Detroit at Christensen Law today. With offices throughout Michigan, our experienced car accident team can help fight for the compensation you are owed.
Our law firm is available 24/7 for a free consultation and can meet virtually or wherever is most comfortable for you. Call or contact us today.