You wouldn’t wear a size 36 pair of jeans if you were a size 32, right? When you put your child in car seat wearing a bulky, winter jacket, you’re essentially doing the same thing – but with potentially dire consequences.
In commemoration of National Child Protection Week (28 May – 4 June), 1st for Women takes a closer look at the link between car seats, winter jackets and your child’s safety.
“Bulky jackets create the illusion that your child is safely buckled into their car seat when in fact the opposite is true. If you tighten your child’s harness around a thick jacket, during an accident that jacket will compress making the harness loose, leading to an increased risk of injury,” explains 1st for Women Insurance’s spokesperson, Casey Rousseau.
The problem with a thick jacket is that the harness may appear to be tight on the child when in fact, there’s too much space created by the soft fabric between the jacket and the child.
Taking this into consideration, your child should be dressed only in clothes that they would wear inside your house. This way their harness can be securely fastened and be as snug as possible. Avoiding extra slack in the harness applies to children in booster seats as well.
The pinch test is a simple way to test this theory.
Step 1: Keep the big winter jacket on and harness your child in their car seat. Tighten your harness as you normally would for travel.
Step 2: Unbuckle the harness, and without loosening it, take your child out of the car seat.
Step 3: Remove their jacket and place them back in the car seat – buckling the harness once more. It needs to be checked for tightness.
When buckled, you should not be able to pinch the webbing at the shoulder. When the harness is snug, your fingers should just slide off the harness as you try to pinch it together. Chances are – you will need to tighten your harness even more to get it snug enough to properly fit your child.
Put your child’s safety first and keep them warm with these useful dos and don’ts:
- Do check their wardrobe before buckling up and make sure they’re wearing no more than they would be indoors.
- Do ensure that your child is snug in their car seat.
- Don’t forget the pinch test to check for tightness.
- Do use their jacket as a blanket. This is done by turning the jacket around and putting it on backwards with their arms through the arm holes.
- Don’t place anything underneath your child in the car seat – or between your child and the harness.