Clek, a Canadian car seat company, shares five tips to keep your child safe in the car during the winter. The tips include what winter outerwear your child should not be wearing in the car seat and tips to stay warm.
Trudy Slaght, Clek’s Child Passenger Safety Advocate, who is also a certified Children's Restraint Systems Technician Instructor, shares tips to keep children safe in their car seats in the winter. The tips below can apply to infant seats and rear or forward-facing car seats, such as Clek's Foonf, which was designed to offer superior crash performance.
Tip No. 1: Reduce bulk between the child’s back and shell of the car seat or booster. Shop for a coat that isn’t bulky, puffy, or made of a slippery fabric. Do not use sleeping bag-style products.
Bulk between the child’s back and shell of the car seat changes the way the harness straps sit on a baby or toddler. Winter jackets can be bulky and puffy. In a collision, the air in a jacket is squeezed out, leaving the harness too loose and therefore unsafe. It’s important to take the extra time to find a jacket that is lightweight but warm. Fleece and fall or spring weight jackets work well. Beware that coats are often made of slippery fabrics too, which can lead to the harness slipping off the shoulders.
Non-regulated (third-party aftermarket) products pose potential safety risks. Despite the deaths of children due to the use of aftermarket products, manufacturers continue to sell them because there are no regulations surrounding them. These include sleeping bag-style products that are designed for cold weather use.
Tip No. 2: Equip yourself with safe, warm supplies including hats, gloves or mittens, blankets, a lightweight sweater or jacket, or a poncho-style cover (designed for infant seats only).
Poncho-style covers are either fleece or quilted fabric with an elasticized edge that are designed to go over top of the car seat. Most of them have an opening on top that you can open to see baby’s face, all of them are safe to use because they don’t go between the baby and the car seat, nor do they have any effect on the fit of the harness.
Tip No. 3: If your baby or toddler is wearing a jacket or sweater with a hood, put the hood up to reduce bulk. For older kids in boosters, coats should be lifted so the lap portion of the belt is in contact with the body and the belt is securely fastened against the hips. You want to ensure that there is no bulk sitting around the hips or over the shoulders.
Get started by putting the hat and mittens on your little one. Then place him into the car seat. Be sure to slide his bum all the way back and ensure that his back is snug against the shell of the car seat.
Once she is well positioned, place the harness straps over her and buckle the harness according to your car seat manufacturer’s directions. Tighten the harness so that the harness is snug on her body—you shouldn’t be able to pinch a horizontal fold in the harness at the child’s shoulders, then slide the chest clip up to her armpit level.
Once the baby or child is safely buckled, layer blankets over top of him and tuck them in on his sides. If you have a cover for the car seat, place that on before heading out the door.
For booster riders and seatbelt passengers, lift the coat up and ensure the seatbelt is fastened snuggly over the hips.
Tip No. 4: On really cold days, you may need to use a winter coat over top of the lighter coat to get your child from your house to your car, but it needs to be removed before placing your child in the car seat or booster.
Remember, after being on the road for a while, the car can heat up. It’s common for children to throw the blankets off when they start to get hot. If you have trouble getting your little one to keep the blankets on, some parents find it easier to put the winter coat on to their child backwards after he’s buckled up.
Tip No. 5: On longer trips, remove covers or blankets, at least partially, to prevent your baby from over-heating. Toddlers and preschoolers will control their own comfort by tossing their blankets off. For children in booster seats such as Clek’s Oobr, Olli, or Ozzi, coats should be removed altogether on long trips.
Clek, based in Toronto, Canada, provides modern safety products for today’s families on the go. Utilizing contemporary styling cues and advanced engineering techniques, Clek products excel in both form and function. With simple innovative solutions, Clek products are designed to make life easier without sacrificing style or safety. Clek is the 2012 winner of the JPMA Innovation Awards.
Want to make sure your car seat is installed properly? Find a car seat inspection site in your area.