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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 17, 2017

A car seat is no place for a winter coat

Nov 30, 2017
Photo by: file photo During the winter, parents struggle with how to keep their young children warm, yet safe as kids should not be strapped into their car seats while wearing bulky winter coats. Experts suggest making sure the car is warm before strapping the child out and transporting them in a blanket. The social media site, Pinterest, features several ideas including fashioning a blanket poncho for tots.

By Morrgan Bouler, Mt. Pleasant News Intern

 

Winter driving can be dangerous for a myriad of reasons. A child’s clothing shouldn’t be one of them.

Last year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads. When it comes to vehicle safety, the general rules are to always wear a seatbelt and to never drink and drive. But what many people, even new parents, may not know is that a child cannot wear a coat in their car seat during the colder months. A bulky winter coat does not allow the straps of the car seat to properly fit snugly against a child’s body and could result in the child not being properly protected in the event of a crash, according to Consumer Reports. But parents may be wondering how to keep their child warm if they can’t wear their coat? Car seat technicians Ginger Knisley and Chad Reckling each suggest different methods.

“I would have them warm up the car first and then wrap their child in a blanket until the child is in their seat and even when they are secure. Any blanket will do for warmth,” Reckling said.

“Parents can put their child’s coat on backwards after they are strapped into the seat,” Knisley added.

Both technicians even recommend using the ‘pinch test’ to make sure the straps are secure. Once the child is in the seat, secured with the shoulder straps, take your forefinger and thumb and pinch the shoulder portion of the strap to determine if there is any slack. If there is no slack, the child is secure. If there is, tighten the straps.

If straps are not tight enough, like when a child is wearing a bulky winter coat, a child could slip out of the straps during a car crash, causing severe damage or even death.

Where can a parent go to make sure that their child will be safe on the road this holiday season? The Children First of Lee and Van Buren Counties has a way to help. The Children First has employees that are certified by Safe Kids Worldwide with curriculum by the NHTSA. The certified technicians can provide a free car seat check.

Knisley and Reckling both recommend parents swing by for a safety check as two-thirds of all parents have their child’s car seat incorrectly installed in their vehicle.

“It is important to have a car seat check as it is very easy to have a seat improperly installed and technicians can also help with other issues such as expired seats, damaged seats, and safety in and around the vehicle,” Knisley said. She added technians are also up-to-date on the latest safety recalls of car seats, in case parents are unaware.

The Children First also provides car seats for families who cannot afford one.

“This time of year is so important when road conditions change making accidents more likely to occur. If we can prevent any injury to a child while transporting them in a car is a good thing,” Reckling said.

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