After our first winter in Colorado, I was surprised to learn that March and April are often the two most snowy months on the Front Range. While I enjoy wintery weather, leaving the house with everyone appropriately dressed, packed, and snug into the car takes extra effort. As a mother of two acrobatic toddlers, getting my kiddos safely buckled into their car seats while keeping warm feels like an aerobics session. I’m often left sweaty and out of breath. A great look for work in the morning, right?!
Despite the sweat and tears, when it comes to car seat safety it’s necessary. Transportation injuries remain a leading cause of fatality for U.S. children. Car seat statistics tell us that incorrect car seat usage increases a child’s risk of serious MVA injury by three times.
Improper harnessing is a common blunder. And appropriate harnessing during those frigid moments can be even trickier.
Thankfully, we can use the following expert tips to ensure our littles are buckled up safe while staying cozy even on the chilliest days.
A Stitch In Time
Nobody likes to hit the snooze button more than I do. Nobody. However, I’ve found that an extra 30-45 minutes to get the household ready for a wintery morning car ride is imperative. There’s more gear to keep up with, the kiddos don’t always wake up feeling cooperative and often times road conditions are yucky. Cutting corners during go-time can leave us unprepared and more vulnerable. So, head to bed earlier, ditch the morning snooze habit and reduce risk.
Layers and Accessories
While getting your child dressed for the wintery ride, think layers. Thin, snug layers are best. Avoid loose clothing. Depending on the temperature, 2-4 thin layers is usually sufficient. Then accessorize! Get on those cozy mittens, hats, socks and shoes. Grab your coat, but be prepared to remove it again soon. More on this below!
In A Pinch
Alright, we are finally ready to get into the car seat. Here comes an important take-home message: Remove that puffy coat before getting strapped in. This is a biggie! Thick coats make it difficult to tighten straps appropriately. Any extra slack makes it easier for children to slip out from under the harness in an accident. With coats off, use the pinch test to ensure your child is secure. While adjusting the harness, try to pinch the webbing vertically at shoulder height. You shouldn’t be able to grasp any material. If you can, continue tugging the harness until your fingers slide off the webbing. Now you’re snug!
Once your child is buckled into the car seat securely, get that coat back out and get cozy! Put the coat on backwards to cover your child’s arms and trunk over the harness straps. The backwards coat also allows for easy removal after the car warms up. This avoids overheating, an important additional benefit.
Be A Bag Lady
Most of us have probably found ourselves unexpectedly stranded on the road at some point. It stinks, right? Uncomfortable and unsafe. So be prepared! During cold weather, keep an emergency winter bag in the car with extra of everything for everyone. It will feel excessive. Key items include extra gloves, hats, dry clothing, boots, phone chargers, a first aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, non-perishable food items, bottled water, and blankets. Tap into your inner girl scout and be ready.
Spring may be around the corner, but wintery weather will likely tag along. Whether it’s a 2-minute drive or a 2-hour drive, hopefully these winter car seat tips will prepare your precious cargo for the safest journey possible.