With winter on it’s way, parents will be bringing out all their winter accessories out for use. This will include winter tires, winter wind shield wipers, winter clothing, shovels, hot chocolate etc. A lot of these items are useful and outright necessary to survive any Canadian winter. Some of these items can even determine life and death situations. An example of this is winter tires and to a certain extent winter wind shield wipers. Yet there is one overlooked combination of normal winter items that can be lethal towards children: winter coats and car seats.
Most people may think this is just nonsense. I thought so too when I first read about it, but as a mother of two, I felt I had to do more research to verify these claims of danger to my children. Early last year in Berwick, Pennsylvania a toddler was ejected out of her car seat in a car accident while wearing a bulky winter coat. The autopsy showed that due to the winter coat, no bruises occurred from the car seat straps and seat belt straps. The bulky winter coats undermined the safety of the car seat, allowing the innocent toddler to be ejected and killed. Reading this, I was shocked and scared. How could something like winter coats and car seats put my children at risk?
I had to perform more research, because I didn’t want to put my children in harm’s way. From what I’ve found is that when car seat straps are tightened over top of these coats there is a risk of the bulk compressing during a collision, which can result in too much slack in the straps. This slack means the possibility of your child slipping out of place, or even entirely out of safety of the car seat. This explains the death of the toddler I mentioned.
Obviously, I was very concerned on how I was going to transport my kids in the car, so I found a handy guide from Consumer reports to make sure that the jacket isn’t too bulky:
What to do instead
If you’re still unsure about whether or not a coat is too bulky, or if you just want a bit more information about car seat safety, this link has information on car seat clinics across Canada.