Car Seat and Winter Coat Safety

Author: Courtney Allen Van Winkle, Short Pump, VA Personal Injury Attorney

We all know that the winter months bring additional driving hazards, but you might not have thought about the dangers associated with bulky winter coats and children’s car seats. The modern car seat is a highly specialized piece of equipment designed to absorb the impact of a car accident and disperse it into the seat. Strapping a child who is wearing a bulky coat into a car seat can cause the straps to become too loose, which can prevent the seat from performing properly.  If the straps are too loose, and an accident occurs, the child might slide forward in the seat, preventing the force of the accident from being properly distributed.[1]

How To Determine If Coat Is Too Bulky

Child in Car Seat

There is a simple method for determining whether your child’s coat is too large to be worn underneath car seat straps. First, buckle your child into the seat while they are wearing the coat and tighten the straps until you can no longer pinch the webbing with your thumb and forefinger. Next, remove your child from the seat and re-buckle them in without the coat. If you can now pinch the webbing, the coat is too large to be worn underneath the straps.[2]

Alternatives For Keeping Your Child Warm

If the coat is too bulky, there are alternatives that can keep your child warm. The easiest and most comfortable is to keep a blanket in the car. You could also buckle your child into the seat without their coat and then have them wear their coat backwards.[3]

The best option is to dress your child in multiple layers of normal-fitting clothing, rather than relying on one bulky, oversized coat. This keeps them warm while allowing the straps of the car seat to still fit correctly. It is safe to use swaddling cloths or custom made car wraps for very young children as long as they are wrapped outside the car seat straps. Every year children are injured when parents misunderstand these products and try to use them underneath safety straps.[4]

Conclusion

Vehicle safety is important for everyone, but young children especially need every bit of protection they can get in the event of a crash. If a bulky coat will prevent your child’s car seat from performing as designed, it is good to know that there are alternatives for keeping your child warm in the vehicle.

About The Author: Courtney Allen Van Winkle is a partner and trial attorney at the Allen Law Firm. Her practice is focused entirely on personal injury cases, including car accidents, bicycle accidents, and drunk driving accidents. As a mother of 4 children herself, Courtney works closely with her clients to understand how their injuries have affected their day-to-day life and dedicates herself to helping them get fair compensation.
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