If you’re about to hit the road to Grandma’s house this holiday season, you might be putting your kids in danger without even knowing it. Experts say that if you put your child in a car seat while wearing a puffy winter coat, your little one could be at increased risk of injury in a car accident.
When you strap your child in the car seat while he or she is wearing a puffy coat, the straps are actually looser than they should be, because the coat creates a gap between your child’s body and the safety strap. It might feel tight, but it’s actually far too loose to be safe. This video demonstrates just how big the gap is:
Using a car seat or booster seat drastically reduces a child’s risk for injury during a car accident, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it’s vital that you make sure you are using the appropriate type of seat for your child’s age, warns Rachel Rothman, Technical Director for the Good Housekeeping Institute. Statistics say that three out of four seats still aren’t used correctly, so make sure to get your car seat inspected by a professional (visit safercar.gov/parents to find a place near you). Government guidelines also advise that you keep your child in the back seat until age 12, and preferably in the middle seat, which is the safest spot in the vehicle.
When a car going 50 km/h hits something, the weight of people and objects in the car are multiplied by 20, says the Société de l’assurance automobile du Quebec(SAAQ), the provincial insurer. An 18-kg child becomes a 360-kg projectile.
If there’s anything thick between straps and your child — like winter clothes, a blanket or an aftermarket pad for the straps — the seat stops working like it was designed, and crash-tested, to.