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Car Seat Safety: Winter Style

With the cold weather upon us in the Lowcountry, it is the perfect opportunity to discuss car seat safety. Now that we are all bundled up with extra layers, it is important to make sure that our cars eats are keeping our kiddos just as safe as before the winter months.

One tip to make sure kids are safely buckled 

Take off your child’s coat when in their car seat. This is super important. Even if the straps are tight with the coat on; if there is a crash, the fluff from the coat will compress, making the car seat straps very loose and therefore lowering the level of safety for keeping your child in place. You can do this test yourself to see how loose the straps are:

  1. Strap your child in their carseat with their winter coat.
  2. Buckle your child in their winter coat. Tighten the straps (use the pinch test – if you can pinch the straps by the chest, it is too loose). 
  3. Take your child out of the carseat.
  4. Remove their winter coat.
  5. Put them back IN the carseat. Buckle, but don’t tighten the straps. 
  6. If the straps are too loose to keep them safe, then your child should not be wearing that jacket in their carseat. 

*Always check the manufacturers directions for how to use the car seat properly

Tips for keeping them warm enough in the car seat

For older babies and children, there are several options:

  1. Make sure they are wearing proper base layers (long sleeve shirt, pants & socks). 
  2. After your child is buckled, put their jacket on them so it looks like they are wearing it backwards. This keeps them strapped in tightly, but their arms and body are warm. 
  3. Dress your child with a warm hat and gloves. 
  4. Keep extra blankets, hats and gloves in the car. You can put them in a cute basket so they have a designated place in your car. This will help keep your car organized and will keep the blankets from getting stepped on when the kids get in/out of the car. 

Car seat safety is SO important. With my first child, I feel like I was oblivious to it. It is hard to admit, but I put my daughter in a forward-facing car seat when her weight hit the level, not a combination of age and weight (a recent law has passed that children must be rear-facing until they are 2 years old in the state of South Carolina); I also didn’t use the strap that attached behind the seat. I didn’t know about the “pinch-test” or to keep her buckle at armpit level. This was purely because I thought she was safe as long as she was in her car seat; but I didn’t know that I wasn’t using it properly. I am so thankful that she did not get harmed from me being naive. I want to share this information so that if you haven’t been taught car seat safety, don’t feel guilty or ashamed, but now you have the tools to help you keep your little loves safe. 

Here is a great visual to help when deciding how to dress your child warmly, but also keep them safe during the cold Charleston days: 

Source: National Weather Service, http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/cold/before.shtml

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