Car seat safety: What your child wears this winter makes a difference

installing a car seat

Have your car or booster seat checked to be sure it’s properly installed.

Don’t you just love the scene from A Christmas Story when Ralphie’s mom is bundling up his little brother, Randy, to go to school? She dresses the little boy in so many layers he can’t even bend his arms. Then, she tops him off with a scarf she wraps around and around and around his neck. I just laugh every time I see that scene!

Gone are the days of dressing my kids. Today, I just remind them to wear a hat and gloves. However, when they were younger, I was tempted to bundle them for car rides. As a child passenger safety technician, I know thick snow suits and jackets are not a good thing when it comes time to secure a child into a car seat.

Puffy winter coats can prevent the harness straps from fitting correctly

It’s important to know the straps are secure on the child so that in a crash the child has less room for movement. You should not be able to pinch any slack in the harness strap at the shoulder. Only one finger should fit snugly between the shoulder and the harness. The chest clip also should be at armpit level.

A combination of layered clothing, a heavy winter coat or snowsuit and a padded car seat also can lead to your child overheating. Try layering with lighter weight clothes like fleece. You always can put a blanket over your child after properly securing the harness straps.

Finally, have your car or booster seat checked to be sure it’s properly installed. Call (414) 607-5280 to schedule a free appointment at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Booster and Car Seat Clinic.

Stay safe and warm during these cold winter days!

- Jennifer Dejno, injury prevention coordinator, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

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