Some safety experts are telling parents to rethink putting coats on children before putting them in car seats.
Child passenger safety technicians at St. Louis Children’s Hospital Safety Stop said they still hear a little hesitation when they explain to parents or grandparents that children should not be put into car seats wearing winter coats.
“What happens in a crash is the fluff of that bulky coat or snowsuit, it’s going to compress, and while you think you’ve had your child in that seat correctly, that compression is going to leave the harness a lot further away from their body than you originally intended and so there is more chance of ejection then,” said Libby Anvender with Safety Stop.
The other concern is that kids can overheat.
Instead of hopping in with the winter coat already on, they have a few recommendations. Older kids can still walk to the car with their coat on but they should take it off to buckle up. Then, they can put it on backward, sliding it over their arms like a Snuggie. As for babies, they recommend using a blanket to put over them after they are buckled in.
They also recommend thin layers so the child doesn’t overheat, whether in a car seat or sleeping in a crib.
“There’s a lot of pushback because it’s very important to keep your child warm. We know that. Once we go over all those reasons why, a lot of parents realize it’s best not to use that coat,” said Anvender.
She also explained the concern isn’t only for kids. Anvender said adults with puffy coats on under their seat belts aren’t as secure either, so they also recommend grown-ups take off their coats before buckling up.
The Safety Stop is an education service that focuses on teaching parents how to use and install car seats, as well as sleep and helmet safety. It is funded through St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation. While it is a free service any parent can use, you do need an appointment. There are four locations, including the main campus of St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the Magic House in Kirkwood, Progress West Hospital, and Children’s Specialty Care Center at 40 and Mason.
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