As the temperatures drop and snow begins to fall, every parent wants to make sure their child is protected from the low temperatures. However, protection from a chilly car interior doesn’t protect your child in a crash. Winter coats can make car seats far less effective or put your child at greater risk of injury.

Having your child wear their coat in the car can jeopardize their safety if a crash occurs. Learn how winter coats can place your child’s safety at risk in the car and how Great West Injury Law can help if you or your child is injured in a car accident.

How a Coat Interferes with a Car Seat

In the event of a car accident, a seatbelt or car seat harness locks in place, preventing you or your child from being thrown forward. However, a puffy winter coat or chunky snowsuit is filled with loose fluffy material that can be easily compressed.

In a car accident, the forward motion can push air out of your child’s coat, flattening it and providing extra space for your child to fly out of the car seat with potentially tragic consequences.

Some coats are too large to fit in your child’s harness or car seat. To buckle your child in, you may loosen the straps and harness to allow extra space for the coat. With this extra space, your child isn’t adequately secured into their seat, allowing them to wriggle loose or slip out of the car seat.

Securing Your Child in the Car Seat

No matter the season, it’s critical to buckle your child into their car seat correctly. In winter, you must remove your child’s coat before putting them in their car seat to ensure it functions properly and minimizes the risk of injury if an accident occurs.

To secure your child in their car seat, do the following:

  1. Slide the harness over your child’s arms and legs, ensuring it rests snugly against their shirt and pants.
  2. Buckle the lower clasps into the locking mechanism and clip the chest pieces together.
  3. Pull the chest piece up to your child’s chest or underarms to secure it in place.

Avoid too loose or too tight straps when securing your child. If you can pinch the strap between your fingers, it’s likely too loose, so you’ll need to tighten it until it is snug against their clothing.

Keeping Your Child Warm in the Car

Getting into a chilly car is unpleasant for anyone, but especially kids. If your car is slow to warm up or worse, the heater is broken, you may feel like you have to pick between keeping your children warm and keeping them safe. Luckily, there are ways to keep your children warm in the car without wearing coats.

Layer Up

Winter coats may not be safe to wear in the car, but that doesn’t mean your child can only wear a T-shirt. Instead, dress your child in thin, close-fitting layers to help them maintain body heat. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants always wear one more layer than adults.

Ensure your child’s harness fits securely, even when wearing layers. While you don’t want the harness to fit too tightly, it shouldn’t be slack.

Use Other Winter Wear

Your child isn’t limited to a winter coat. Hand coverings like mittens or gloves, thick socks, and hats will help your child retain warmth while maintaining a safe distance from the safety harness. You can also bring a soft, warm blanket to drape over your child for the ride.

Cover Your Child

Your child can hold their coat over their car seat harness during the car ride. Remove your child’s winter coat before they’re in the car seat and buckle them in. Then, turn the jacket around like you’re putting on your child’s coat backward and drape it over their chest and lap. Since the coat isn’t under the harness, it won’t endanger them in the event of a crash.

If your child is in a rear-facing seat, keep blankets or coats away from their nose and mouth. Depending on their age, the fabric could block their airway, posing a suffocation risk.

Keep Extra Clothes in the Car

Some parents keep an extra sweater and pair of pants in the car for their child during winter. These can help keep your child warm if it’s especially chilly, the car breaks down, or their clothing gets wet, making them cold.

Great West Injury Law Can Help Victims of Car Accidents

Every parent’s worst fear is for their child to be injured in a car accident. If a car collision in Utah left you or your child with serious injuries, you may be considering legal action against the other driver.

While Utah is a no-fault state, hiring a car accident attorney from Great West Injury Law can help you recover damages from your insurer or the other driver after the accident. Our law firm can help you and your child recover the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn your next steps.