Winter Car Seat Safety

Winter is a beautiful and dangerous time of year. At least once during the season Alabama will get a snow day that immediately wreaks havoc on our roads. Hills, cars, and ice do not mix. Even without the snow we get a lot of rain responsible for accidents. One of my biggest concerns this time of year is car seat safety for my kids. If an accident occurs, I want to make sure that my kids are safe and protected from harm. I decided to do some research on car seat safety and found some habits I did not consider risky in the car.

  1. Winter coats and car seats are a dangerous combination. On cold days, we bundle up our kids and warm the car to keep everyone healthy and comfortable. What I didn’t realize is that those puffy jackets and suits that keep them warm are rendering my car seat useless. A big coat under the harness of a car seat makes the harness too loose to be effective and will cause damage to your child in an accident. A good test to see if your child’s coat is too big is to:
    1. Place the child wearing the coat in the car seat and adjust the straps to the proper place.
    2. Remove child without loosening or adjusting the harness.
    3. Place child back inside car seat without the coat and notice the difference. If the straps are loose and not secure then the coat is too big and not safe.
    4. A few ways to solve this issue without freezing your kid is to
      1. remove your child’s coat in the car, strap them in safely and put the coat back on backwards, over their arms
      2. or lay a blanket over your child to keep them warm.
  2. If you can bring the car seat inside easily- do it. Most infant seats detach from a base and can be brought inside. Strapping a baby in a seat at room temperature can help them retain their body heat opposed to strapping them into a cold seat that has been in the car for hours.
  3. Do not use car seat covers that cover the face in the car. Faces should be out to avoid trapped air and re-breathing. A lot of products sold at the store for car seats are not safe or crash tested. Do some research on any bundling products before using them.

Twice a year my car gets a strip down and deep clean. Usually by the time winter or summer is over my car is so full of filth that it is no longer enjoyable or safe to ride in. My husband and I will take everything out of the car, including seats, to vacuum and wipe down. This is the time I will wash my car seats as well. I learned the hard way that washing a car seat is not as easy as it sounds and putting it back together is like rocket science. Here are some tips to make the process a little less stressful. Because who doesn’t love a clean car?

  1. Know how your car seat works. Having the manual (most are online) to guide you is a huge help in knowing what you can take apart and wash and what needs to be hand washed on the seat. Some parts of a car seat come off but shouldn’t – who came up with that? – and by removing them you risk the safety of your kid. Know your car seat.
  2. Pay attention to the way it comes apart. There are usually a ton of different buttons and hooks that attach in a certain pattern. If you don’t remember how it fits you will never get them back on right. Taking pictures can help with this part.
  3. Wash on a gentle cycle and air dry. This is one of the steps I learned the hard way. I threw my car seat pieces in the washing machine like I would any other washable item and my seat cover came out shredded. It was awful. Now I know to use the gentle cycle and even a garment bag for the car seat. It gets a good cleaning and comes out looking new. The dryer can shrink or misshape the pieces so laying them out to air dry will ensure everything goes back together correctly.
  4. Use correct installation when re-installing the car seat in the car. This can be the hardest part because most people do not know how to correctly secure a car seat. The DMV online offers step by step instructions on how to install a car seat correctly for all ages but you can also make an appointment with your local fire department and they will assist you in this process.

Winter is a wonderful time of year and hopefully the above suggestions will bring peace of mind in your travels in the upcoming months.

About Grace:

Grace was born and brought up in Bessemer, Alabama but has a great love for exploring new places. She has been married for 8 years and has 3 kids, expecting number 4 in December. Having been a student off and on for the last 10 years she is excited to say that she is finally graduating from BYU-Idaho with a degree in Marriage and Family Counseling this year. She loves to learn and share what she learns with as many people as possible. Strengthening and encouraging positive relationships with couples and families is a life goal and passion. Her biggest hobby is her family and finding new and fun ways to accomplish the above life goal in her home.

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