Winter is a tricky time for car seats. With the cold New England weather, it’s important to bundle up the family. But all those layers can be dangerous in the car, especially for kids still in car seats.
With that in mind, we wanted to share a few tips to help you keep your little ones safe on the road. Here are our top four:
1) Ensure all straps fit properly.
Car seat straps shouldn’t have any slack. While you don’t want them so tight that they’re uncomfortable, leaving them too loose is a serious safety hazard. If your child is sitting in the seat and you can pinch excess material around their shoulders or hips, then the straps aren’t snug enough. You should “refit” your child’s car seat periodically to make sure it still fits properly as they grow, checking to make sure all straps buckle securely and that they’re in the right slots of the harness for your child’s height.
For older children using booster seats and seat belts, the belt should lay across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt should lay across the chest (not the neck). Never allow your child to put the shoulder belt under their arm or behind their back as this can cause them to be thrown from their seat in a crash.
2) Keep the coat off.
One of the most common problems with a child car seat is that the harness is left too loose, and wearing a big winter coat makes this even more dangerous. In a car crash, fluffy padding immediately flattens out from the force, leaving extra space under the harness. A child can then slip through the straps and be thrown from the seat. For that reason, it’s best to leave coats off in the car. Instead, dress your kiddos in several thin layers, to make sure they’re warm while keeping straps fitted to your child’s body.
Worried your kids will be cold in the car without their coats? We’ve got some ideas for you.
3) Make sure that both front and rear facing seats are securely attached to the back seat.
Installing car seats can be a huge pain but it’s important to do it right. Never install a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an airbag. Be sure buckle children in the middle of the back seat when possible, as this is the safest spot in the vehicle. The seatbelt that’s acting as an anchor for the seat should be as tight as possible, without any slack. If you can move the seat more than an inch or two, from side-to-side or front-to-back, then it’s too loose and should be reinstalled.
4) Keep them in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible.
Most people simply look at age when deciding to move their child to the next seat- typically between 2 or 3. But, really, it’s all about height and weight. You should keep your child in a rear-facing seat, so long as they meet the height and weight requirements.
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Since 1988, our family owned and operated service center has been providing top quality auto repair services to Agawam, Feeding Hills, Southwick, West Springfield and the surrounding Massachusetts communities. If your car needs maintenance or repair, call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.