As Winter approaches and we sort through storage bins of last year’s outerwear to try on for size, it’s important to remember that how a child is dressed in their car seat can impact their safety.
As parents, getting out the door in the morning with toddlers in tow can be a challenge on a good day – and much harder in the Winter. That’s because, despite cold temperatures, children shouldn’t be wearing puffy jackets in their car seats.
The puffy material can make it difficult to properly tighten the harness. Puffy or bulky jackets are filled with air pockets that – even when fastened quite tightly – leave too much slack in the harness straps, rendering them dangerously loose.
Consider this scenario: It’s 8:05am. You’re running late for work again. Your son knocked his milk cup over, drowning his toast in a pool of dairy and tears. His little sister’s attempts to console him and help clean up the mess are only adding to the mayhem. As you get them both dressed, you desperately plead with them to start putting their boots on as quickly as possible. “We’re late” is starting to feel like the weekday morning soundtrack. After adjusting your son’s left and right boots, you’re all finally about to leave home. Now comes the hard part… getting into the car. Both of your children are in car seats, and it’s cold outside.
You’re understandably tired and rushed, and it’s unquestionably jacket weather. Still, no matter how cold it is, most puffy jackets don’t belong in car seats.
To test if your child’s cold weather jacket can be safely worn, try this:
Fasten your child into their car seat while they are wearing their puffy jacket, pulling the harness nice and snug. Then, without loosening the harness, unbuckle it and take their jacket off. Now, try buckling the harness again (without adjusting the tightness). If the harness remains just as snug as it was with the jacket on, it’s likely safe to wear. However, if the harness is suddenly several inches too loose, it’s not a safe fit. All of that extra space in the straps was deceptively created by the puffy jacket.
Those extra inches of slack in the harness could make a serious difference in the unfortunate event of a collision, increasing risk of injury, and of possibly being ejected from a car seat.
Understandably, car crashes aren’t something we like to think about – especially when we’re traveling with our little ones. The reality is that they happen, and they’re still one of the leading causes of death in children. That’s why we take the time to fasten them into their car seat every time we drive – no matter how near or far we’re traveling. Dressing a child unsafely in their car seat undermines that effort and parental instinct.
If your child’s jacket does not pass the test, a safe option is to remove your child’s jacket each time you buckle them into their car seat. When you arrive at your destination, you can help them to put their jacket back on, or wrap them in a blanket to keep warm as they make their way inside. For added convenience and peace of mind, you may also consider purchasing a car seat safe jacket, like Tempo Outerwear’s Duo jacket, that has been specifically designed to safely be worn in car seats.
Planning ahead for how to approach Winter in car seats will spare parents the added stress of developing a panicked solution when very cold weather strikes. And what family with young children wouldn’t mind having one less thing to stress about on busy mornings?
Amanda Occhicone is the CEO & Founder of Tempo Outerwear, a Canadian brand of car seat safe jackets. Amanda’s firsthand experience as a mother of two fueled her passion for developing a safe solution that would help children and parents alike. To learn more about Tempo Outerwear, visit www.TempoOuterwear.com