HKQ Kids

Car Seats and Winter Coats

As the weather gets colder in Northeast PA, we bundle up! It’s not unusual to wear multiple layers, coats and scarves to try to stay warm. What is not commonly known is that winter coats can pose a safety hazard while your kids are in their car seats. Thicker winter coats and car seats are a dangerous combination. When their winter coats are on, there is a lot of space between the child’s body and the harness, as much as 2 to 4 inches. If they are involved in a car crash, the bulky coat could compress down and the straps could become loose. This creates the possibility of the child slipping out of the car seat or being thrown forward too hard, leaving the child more susceptible to injury or potentially even death. Here are some tips to keep your child safe in the car during the winter.

Tips for car seat safety in the winter:

• Warm up your car. Take your kids to your car with their coats on. Remove their coats inside the car, prior to fastening them in their car seat.
• Dress the child as if they were going to be indoors. They should not be dressed in any clothing thicker than a sweatshirt. Two to four thin layers is ideal.
• Secure the straps so they are snug. You should not be able to pinch the harness material between your thumb and pointer finger if it is snug enough.
• Use blankets or lay the coat over the child to keep the child warm.

Pennsylvania has specific car seat regulations that should also be mentioned. These regulations are important to follow to make sure your kids stay safe and secure while you are traveling.

Car seat regulations:

• Children under 2 years old should sit in a rear-facing car seat, but it is recommended to keep them in a rear-facing seat until they meet the top height or weight limit of the car seat.
• Children age 4 to 7 should sit in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the top height or weight limit of the car seat.
• Children 8 to 12 should sit in a booster seat until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. The belt should lie across the upper thighs and across the shoulder and chest.
• Children should stay in a booster seat until they are 4’9” or weigh at least 80 lbs.
• Children under the age of 12 should remain in the back seat of vehicles due to the dangers of deploying airbags.
• Make sure your car seat is properly installed. If you need assistance, the Pennsylvania State Police hold regular car seat checkups, free of charge. You can find additional information online.

Stay warm, stay safe, and stay healthy! For additional safety tips go to HKQKids.org, find us on Facebook and Instagram.