With cooler weather around the corner, many parents are eager to bundle their little joys into warm coats and thick sweaters. And while it seems like common sense to leave children bundled up in their winter clothes while seated in a car seat, experts now say this can be a leading cause of coat compression, a dangerous phenomenon that occurs when bundled children slide out of their clothing upon impact due to the extra fabric.
“The biggest concern would be the big, thick coats,” says Bobbi Paper, injury prevention coordinator with Sanford Children’s and Safe Kids. “People want to keep their babies warm.”
Many parents have mistakenly believed that extra fabric may actually hold the child tighter within the seat, thereby increasing his or her safety in the event of a car accident. But, as experts have confirmed, the opposite is true: the more clothing a child is strapped in with, the higher the risk for the harness to become loose and the child to become endangered.
“They’re not as tight as you think they are,” Paper says.
Coat compression is common with babies and toddlers as opposed to kids in booster seats who can depend on a seat belt to instantly tighten upon impact. But if a child’s seat harness is loose, the baby’s risk for a head injury or neck or spine compression is high in the event of an accident.
Avoid coat compression: buckle kids safety
Parents can avoid the possibility of injury this winter by considering some easy alternatives that can still ensure your child stays warm – and most importantly, safe. And fortunately, San Diego weather is generally so mild that accommodating these ideas are easy and comfortable for any parent and child.
- Keep fleece blankets in your vehicle. Fleece is not a chilly fabric, and instantly feels warm to the touch. Remove jackets and sweaters, and immediately strap in your child. Cover them in blankets to make sure they stay cozy.
- Start your car a few minutes prior to departure. Lucky for us, we don’t have to deal with snow. Starting your car several minutes prior to use is common in snowy areas and practically a requirement – but for rare chilly mornings or frosty evenings in San Diego, consider warming up your car for just few minutes so the whole family can stay comfortable and little ones stay safe without bulky bundling.
Other reminders for car seat safety
Experts also remind parents to follow the latest recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics: children under the age of 2 must be seated-rear facing. As we covered in a previous blog post, many parents voiced exasperation over the new requirements since growing children are often too bulky to sit rear-facing.
“What I found scared me,” said one parent. “The phrase ‘internal decapitation’ will never leave my mind.”
To find out more about the LATCH system, and how to properly restrain your child’s car seat, read our blog on car seat safety.
About the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC
Michael Pines, founder, has worked with families across San Diego County to seek maximum recovery in wake of a tragic child accident. If your child has been injured and you suspect it was someone else’s fault, we can help. A personal injury attorney can answer your legal questions free of charge. Call us now at 1-800-655-6585.