Wearing a Puffy Jacket in the Car Could be Unsafe for You and Your Child
By Leanne Shelton
Last winter I drove a friend and her son to a birthday party. When her son got in the car, she took his jacket off before buckling his seatbelt. Curious about it, I asked her why. She said that it was unsafe for kids to wear their winter jackets under their car seat/seat belt.
I had never heard that before and thought to myself that I’d have to look into it. I never did. I actually forgot about it until this year when I have been seeing some headlines on Facebook about this very topic. This time I did some research.
She was right! According to Consumer Reports, AAA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many others, it is unsafe for kids to wear winter jackets, especially puffy jackets, under their car seat or seat belt. The reason is because, even though it may feel secure, the jacket leaves too much slack in the straps. In an accident, the child could very easily slip out of the car seat or seat belt.
You can test if your child’s jacket is dangerous to wear by buckling him or her in with it on. Don’t adjust the straps and unbuckle your child. Take the jacket off and buckle your child back in. If you can pinch the strap of the car seat/seat belt near the child’s shoulder with your thumb and forefinger, it is too loose and the jacket should not be worn.
Wearing bulky winter jackets under seat belts is also unsafe for adults for the same reasons. There is too much slack between the seat belt and your body to effectively keep you safe in an accident.
There are many ways to keep you and your child warm in the car without wearing jackets. Warm your car up prior to leaving. Keep a blanket in the car and place it on top of your child after buckling him or her. Put his/her jacket on backwards after buckling. Dress in thin layers. Wear hats and gloves.
For more information or if you have questions about car seat safety, contact Shoen Safety and Training. To become CPR and/or First Aid certified, register for one of the upcoming classes at this link: http://shoensafety.com/events/.
To make sure your car seat is properly installed and you live in Phoenixville, contact the Phoenixville Police Department to set up an appointment with Officer Stabilo. If you do not live in Phoenixville, contact your local police station to determine the process to get your car seat safety check.