Safe Kids NE Florida and Wolfson Children’s Hospital Offer Winter Reminder about Bulky Jackets and C | Families
Now that winter and some colder temperatures are here, Safe Kids Northeast Florida, led by Wolfson Children’s Hospital, has a seasonal reminder for parents and caregivers about transporting children in car seats. Infants, toddlers and children riding in car seats with internal harnesses should not be placed in the car seat with thick jackets, sweaters, or coats on, due to the issue of “coat compression.”
“The extra fabric will compress in a crash, leaving the harness straps too loose to protect the child,” says Cynthia Dennis, RN, injury prevention coordinator for THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital and coordinator of Safe Kids Northeast Florida. “When a harness is loose, there’s more room for the baby’s head, neck and spine to be jerked forward. When the strap is tight enough, you shouldn’t be able to pinch the harness material at the shoulders.”
Child passenger safety technicians’ advice is easy: strap before you wrap. Dress your child warmly in pants and warm shirts and shoes. Then buckle the infant or child in the car seat correctly, with harnesses snug, and add a blanket over the outside of the harness, but bring along a jacket. Another solution is to put the jacket on his arms backwards after buckling, outside of the harness.
Although we live in Florida, local child passenger safety technicians see the practice of buckling up with too many layers often when cold snaps occur.
Additional safety advice for the safest possible travel in vehicles includes:
- Keep your child rear-facing until at least age 2, or the upper weight limits of the seat.
- Keep forward-facing children in a 5-point harness as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowable by the car seat manufacturer.
- After kids outgrow their forward-facing car seat, switch to a booster seat. Children should not use a seat belt alone until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. They should always ride in the rear seat until age 13. To secure the car seat into the vehicle, use a seat belt or the vehicle’s LATCH system, not both.
- Read the owner’s manual for both your car seat and your vehicle.
- Regularly check if your seat has been recalled. Visit wolfsonchildrens.org/safekids for a link.
- For a free car seat inspection, call 202-4302 or visit us at www.wolfsonchildrens.org/safekids.