Winter is here! Whether you are heading to school or hitting the road for a road trip, winter can be a challenging time for buckling kids up! Unfortunately in the rush of getting in the car it can be easy to overlook a few of the most important car seat safety tips for winter. Let’s take a look at a few of the tips provided by The American Academy of Pediatrics.
Remove bulky clothing, puffy jackets or snow suits.
It can be a pain to bundle kids up to get into the car, just to undress them again once you are in the car, but it is important that puffy and bulky clothes not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat. The extra padding creates extra space under the harness in a collision, creating space that may allow a child to be thrown from the seat. Consider dressing your child in layers that may be worn in the car seat, such as a thin fleece coat or sweater.
Keep removable infant seats in the house.
If your infant is in a car seat that removes from the base, consider keeping the carrier seat in the house instead of the car. That way your child can be buckled into the seat in the house, where the seat and child are warm. You can add a blanket on top of the harnessed child before going outside.
Be cautious of accessories.
Third party accessories are very popular and easy to find on store shelves, but they aren’t necessarily safe! Remember that anything that has not come with your car seat is not safety tested with the seat. Car seat covers and car seat blankets should never go between your child and the harness or underneath your child’s body in the car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds us that “Just because it’s on the shelf at the store does not mean it is safe!”
What can you use?
Many parents like to add a blanket or poncho on top of their child in the car to help keep them warm. Others like to buckle their child in and then put a jacket on backwards so it can be open to the harness. These can be a great choice if they do not go under the harness or between the child and the seat. Make sure you use something easily removable so your child does not overheat in the car and for infants especially, be sure to leave extra space around the child’s face.
No one wants to think about it, but in case something happens on the road we recommend you keep an emergency bag in your car. Extra blankets, clothes, hats, gloves and of course snacks will help keep everyone comfortable and safe in case of a winter emergency. Dry clothes are especially important incase your child gets wet outside in the snow or in a cold winter rain!
If you have any questions about installing, using or maintaining your car seat, Austin-Travis County EMS offers free monthly car seat checks.
You can find more information on their website: http://www.austintexas.gov/page/car-seat-checks