While seeing our kids rugged up in their winter woolies certainly ups the cuties factor, did you know that you are supposed to remove your child’s coats and jackets before you strap them into their car seat, and not doing so may put them in danger?
Ideally, you don’t want your child to be wearing anything thicker than they would normally wear while indoors, or in summer – a t-shirt or light jumper is the most they should have on.
Paediatrician and child-safety expert, Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, from the Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, explains, “Car seats are designed to be tightly attached to the vehicle and the child attached tightly to the car seat, anything that interferes with that increases injury.”
It is very important that the harness is tight enough that you can’t pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. Any extra slack in the harness can be very dangerous; it can lead to too much excursion or even ejection during a crash.
“Anything between the child and the straps is compressible; it’s like having space, which creates more risk that the child could thrust forward into the straps in the event of a crash,” explains Dr. Benjamin Hoffman.
Think clothes couldn’t make that much difference? The video below demonstrates just how much extra slack one jacket can make:
It’s simple physics. If a car is travelling at a certain speed, everything and everyone in the vehicle is travelling at that same speed. If the car stops suddenly, the people in the car continue to travel at that speed.
“The best thing we can do is attach the body as tightly as we can to the vehicle itself.” says says Dr. Hoffman.
Consumer Reports in the UK shares how you can do a simple test at home:
Once your child is secured in their seat without their winter coats, you can check that the harness is secured tightly by conducting a fairly straightforward pinch test. With your thumb and your index finger, pinch the harness near the child’s collar bone. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing when you pinch the strap, the harness is considered snug enough.
Tizzie Hall, the best-selling author of Save our Sleep, recently came under fire for advocating potentially unsafe car restraint practices, by suggesting that it was safe practise to use a baby wrap when you are placing an infant in a carseat. It isn’t safe at all. The Australian safety standards state that both arms and legs should always be sticking out of the harness straps, which therefore makes swaddling unsafe.
“If it’s an older child, take their jacket and put their arms through it backwards over the harness. If the child is younger, tuck a blanket around the straps. There are some items that aren’t manufactured by the car seats to keep a child warm, but we don’t recommend using anything that alters the way a child interacts with a car seat. The bottom line is that nothing should come between a child and the car seat straps.” says Dr. Hoffman.
Research has show over and over again that too many of parents are getting car seat safety wrong.
Kidsafe Australia recommends the following as the ‘Ten Essential Steps’ in car seat safety:
If you’re confused about recommendations and laws, you can find more information HERE.
Britax in the UK has launched a campaign called ‘Bin The Booster’, which urges parents to get rid of any booster cushion seats they might have and opt for highback booster seats with head and side impact protection.
Parents who opt for the booster style cushions to help lift their child and ensure the vehicle seat belt sits correctly, could be placing their child at significantly more risk. Britax found that approximately half (49 percent) of seat belts used to secure child seats may be fitted incorrectly. They are often twisted, too high, or fitted around the seat and not the child. In addition, these booster cushions offer no head or side impact protection for children travelling in cars.
To get the full attention of parents, and highlight just how dangerous the booster cushion style chairs are, Britax has released some alarming footage filmed at their crash test centre, capturing the safety performance of a booster cushion vs a highback booster seat in the event of a frontal collision.
You can watch that powerful crash-test video below: