When it comes to keeping kids safe in cars, most parents tend to think about the hot summer months—but the cold weather brings its own set of potential dangers. Follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on winter car safety for kids to keep your little ones warm and safe all season.
Photo: Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash
Dress for Safety
The number one mistake many parents make is buckling their kids into their car seats while wearing their bulky winter coats. As the AAP explains, “in a car crash, fluffy padding immediately flattens out from the force, leaving extra space under the harness. A child can then slip through the straps and be thrown from the seat.”
Instead, dress your kids in light layers and add a coat worn backwards or a blanket on top of the buckled harness. Hats, mittens and socks are also a good addition to keep kids warm without interfering with the buckle.
If possible, the AAP suggests removing the carrier portion of an infant seat and bringing it indoors when you are not in the car, this way the seat will be room temperature when you place your baby inside.
Skip the Accessories
The AAP warns that you should only use car seat covers if no part of them goes underneath your baby or between your baby and the car seat straps. Always make sure to keep your baby’s face uncovered.
“Many retailers carry car seat bundling products that are not safe to use in a car seat. Just because it’s on the shelf at the store does not mean it is safe,” the AAP advises. Keep in mind that if an item doesn’t come with your seat, then it hasn’t been crash-tested.
Be Prepared for an Emergency
Ice and snow can be a recipe for trouble on the roads. Keep extra blankets, clothes, hats and gloves in the trunk of your car in case you get stranded or if you just happen to play to much in the snow and want to avoid wet clothes which can easily get frigid on the drive home.
When In Doubt, Use the Pinch Test
Even when you think you’ve tightened the harness enough, you might not have. If you’re ever in doubt, use this simple pinch test to check: you should only be able to slide one finger under the strap and if you can pinch the belt between two fingers, it’s too loose.