It’s -20 degrees outside and everybody is freezing. There have been more snow days this past year than during my entire elementary school education.
This is the face I get from other people every time I’m out with my toddler in winter. Let me tell you why….
I pull her out of the car seat without a jacket. Yes, I said WITHOUT, into the -20 degree weather. At first, I brushed it off. Then, I realized everywhere I turned people gawked. As I observed other children being put into and out of cars, they were bundle up in huge snowsuits and parkas. I thought, don’t the other parents know how dangerous that is?! I did some research and neither one of the community hospitals offers a car seat safety class. Typically fire departments do car seat checks. Normal Fire Department is the only one that does and it’s not well known about. If it’s not publicized, how would any parent know about car seat safety? Heck, the only reason I knew about it was because I was forced to attend the class during my OB clinical in nursing school. I’m glad I did and I want to share a potentially life saving tip to keep your kiddos safe while driving.
DO NOT PUT YOUR CHILD INTO A CAR SEAT WITH A PUFFY WINTER COAT OR SNOW SUIT!
Here’s the reason…
In the event of a crash, the car seat is meant to have some movement to absorb the impact. The harness ensures that your child moves with the car seat, not within the harness. (The harness is tight enough when you are unable to pinch any slack). If you place your child into the car seat with a puffy jacket you are creating more space within the harness for your child to move and defeating the safety mechanism. For example, if you are traveling at 30 mph and your child weighs 20 lbs. Your child would be thrown at a force of 30 to 60 times their body weight. That would be at approximately 600 mph. Without the harness being as snug as possible, your child would be thrown from the car seat or out of the car.
Get the Facts…
According to the Center for Disease Control, the CDC, motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. A big problem is that most child seats are used incorrectly. In a study of 3,500 vehicles, 72% used the car seat incorrectly, which could cause injury to the child in an accident. Children ages 4-8 whom use booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 45% when used correctly.
Something to try…
-Place your child in the car seat with their jacket. Then, without releasing the straps for slack, unbuckle the apparatus.
-Now place your child back into the seat without their jacket.
-If you are able to pinch the strap, then it is not safe to place your child in the car seat with the jacket.
As you can see, my husband was able to stick his whole hand through the harness. That amount of space between the harness and my child would cause her to eject from the car seat if there was enough force.
My child is now correclty placed in the car seat with the chest clip at the nipple/armpit level. To ensure she is warm, her coat is placed through her arms backwards. I actually just lay the coat on her because she usually gets hot and starts to scream after the car is nice and warmed up. A blanket works well too. These photos were taken on a day that it was – 11 degrees out. She didn’t fuss once and didn’t get frostbite in the process.
What else can you do…
I encourage you to continue your own research. What was once best practice 6 years ago may not be best practice now. Yes, your child made it through just fine. I remember a time not having to wear a seat belt in the back seat of a car. However, cars are bigger, drivers are more careless, there are more distractions and more possibilities for accidents.
Please view some of the related videos and articles below. If you are like me and need visual proof, there are also some videos.
I love the website safekids.org. It has safety tips for children of all ages. I highly recommend any parent to browse through it. There are obvious things on there that you may never even think about.
A huge THANK YOU to Meredith Diaz for writing this post. Meredith is my cousin
Melissa Ash - mom of 2 energetic boys, wife, and business woman. Just trying to "do it all".