Winter Travel Safety Tips
We know that you want your little ones to stay cozy during the winter months, but big coats can affect the fit of the car seat harness.
Even though the harness may seem snug on your child while wearing a coat, in the event of a crash, the coat could compress, creating slack in the harness that allows your child to move about in the seat.
So how can you keep your baby safe and comfortable during chilly weather?
Start with the Pinch Test
First, it’s important to know how to tell if your child’s harness is tight enough, whether they're wearing a winter coat or a t-shirt. To make sure your child’s harness is snug enough, perform the simple Pinch Test:
- Secure your child in the car seat and buckle the harness as usual.
- Using your thumb and pointer finger, try to pinch one of the harness straps at your child’s collar bone level.
If you're able to pinch the strap, the harness is too loose. You should not be able to pinch any excess webbing.
Check the tightness of the harness strap every time you buckle children into their car seats, especially when they are wearing heavy coats.
Check your child’s coat
Now that you know what a properly snug harness looks like, you can check if your child’s coat is acceptable to wear in a car seat:
- Secure your child in the car seat while wearing the coat in question.
- Properly tighten the car seat harness around your child until the harness webbing cannot be vertically pinched at your child’s collar bone.
- Remove your child from the car seat WITHOUT loosening the harness system.
- Remove the coat and secure your child back in the car seat WITHOUT adjusting (loosening/tightening) the harness.
If the buckle and chest clip are still secure without the coat, and the harness webbing CANNOT be vertically pinched at your child’s collarbone, then the coat is acceptable. If the harness webbing CAN be vertically pinched, then the coat is too thick and should not be worn with the car seat.
Try some other options
If your child’s coat is too bulky to be worn with the car seat, you may consider some of these alternatives for keeping your child warm in your vehicle:
- Preheat your vehicle.
- Put a coat on your child backwards after the harness is properly tightened.
- Drape a blanket over your child.
- Consider a coat made out of very thin but warm material.