Car seat (opens in new tab) safety is always important, but it becomes more important than ever when we have little ones travelling in the back.
There's one terrifying winter car seat safety hazard that not all parents may be aware of, but it's a safety tip so important that it could save your child's life in the event of an unfortunate car accident.
It's all to do with the coat your little one is wearing.
According to safety experts at Good Egg Car Safety (opens in new tab), parents are making the common mistake of strapping their children into their car seat with their winter coat still on - an act which could, if you were to have a car accident, endanger the life of your child.
Here, we explain everything you need to know about winter car seat safety and how you can protect your child from this common car seat blunder.
How to ensure winter car seat safety
The straps of the car seat must fit snugly against your child's chest to keep them secure in the event of a crash, or if you have to brake harshly.
But wrapping your kids up in thick layers means that you are creating a much bigger gap between the straps and your child's chest.
If you were to strap your child in while wearing a winter coat, and then remove their coat from under the straps, you'd find that the straps are shockingly loose, leaving enough space that could potentially mean the baby could come free from their car seat during an accident.
These alarming clips, from Good Egg Child Safety's (opens in new tab) YouTube video, demonstrates the horrifying gap your child's coat could be creating between them and their all-important car seat straps
At first glance, this image of a child strapped into his car seat whilst wearing his coat doesn't appear out of the ordinary.
But after removing the coat, you can see the gap the padding had cerated between him and his car seat, rendering it far less effective in the event of a crash.
Margaret Bolt, Good Egg Safety car seat expert, says: "Without adjusting the harness and doing the buckle back up, you can see how much movement there is in those straps and how much slack there in fact still is.
"Now if they wear a winter coat in a car seat and the car is involved in a crash, all the padding in the coat will be compressed and effectively this is how loose the straps are and the child could be ejected from the seat."
To prove this point further, a viral post (opens in new tab) written by Nicky Campbell surfaced on Facebook last year, and was shared by thousands of parents showing how dangerous wearing a winter coat in a car seat can be.
The post was later shared on reddit highlighting the importance of keeping kids safe, even if this may mean they are in the cold for a few moments while leaving the house to get into the car.
Nicky's post read, "If you're out and about and see a parent with a baby/toddler who isn't wearing a coat, pleeeease don't assume that parent is some kinda monster who doesn't care if their kid freeze.
"New car seat guidelines avidly warn about children wearing coats in car seats - and this makes it really challenging for caregivers (particularly those with multiple small children) to get kids out of the house then in the car then out of the car again and into the destination."
Another Facebook post shared by Marie Diersing in 2014 also warned parents of the importance of winter car seat safety. Marie's social media post went viral, and was shared over 105k times and received 9.5k Facebook likes.
How to keep your child warm and safe
While you might worry that they'll be too chilly without their coat on, don't forget that apart from newborns, your kids don't need to be kept any warmer than you do. Warming the car up for five minutes before you leave the house and keeping the heating on throughout the journey should keep them warm enough.
Fleece jackets, under-clothing thermals and gloves are all warm, but thin enough to still enable you to settle little ones into their car seat securely.
If you're still worried, put the coat on backwards on the dash to the car, get them in their seat and remove the coat before you strap them in. For really little ones, wearing a hat and a snuggly blanket on top of the straps (not tucked under) should keep them warm, toasty and most importantly, safe.
What the winter car seat safety experts say...
Estelle Salter, Customer Care Manager for child car seats manufacturer Maxi-Cosi, says, "When fastening your little one into their car seat you need to ensure the harness is suitably secure to your baby's body, so no thick coats or snowsuits as they will restrict how tight you can actually adjust the straps.
"Remember, if you can fit more than two fingers under the harness at the child's shoulder bone, the coat is too thick and is not safe for use with the car seat.
"If you're worried about your little one getting cold, why not cover them with a snuggly blanket and tuck them in?"
Sibelle Mehmet is a Junior Digital Writer at Goodto.com. She joined the team in April 2019 and was her first job since completing a MA in Magazine Journalism at City, the University of London in the summer of 2019. Sibelle previously interned at a number of national titles including OK!, Heat, Closer, Mother & Baby, and The Times Newspaper magazine. She's written extensively about the latest celebrity, showbiz, and royal news.
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