With many Montanans experiencing cold and snow conditions, now is a good time to go over car seat safety in the winter. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that wearing winter costs when in the car can be unsafe for both kids and adults. AAP recommends a few safety tips to be aware of when strapping your child into their car seat in cold and snowy conditions.
Dress your child in thin layers; start with close-fitting layers on the bottom, like tights, leggings, or a long-sleeved body suit. Adds pants and a warmer top like a sweater or thermal t-shirt with a thin fleece jacket over the top. Long underwear is also a safe and warm option in extremely cold weather. Babies should wear one more layer than adults; if an adult wears a hat and coat, the baby should have a hat, coat, and blanket. Be sure the blanket or coat goes over the straps, not under. You can try to add a blanket over the top of the harness or put the coat on backward over the buckled harness strap.
Tighten the straps of the car seat harness; too many layers can make it hard to tighten the harness. If you can pinch the straps of the harness, it needs to be tightened, so it is first firmly against the chest. Boots, socks, hats, and mittens are another way to keep the kids warm in the car without adjusting any straps. If you have a child who sucks their thumb, try keeping extra gloves handy; once wet, gloves can make them colder.
For babies, keep the carrier of the infant seat inside when it is not used. Keeping it at room temperature reduces the loss of body heat when in the car. Only use a car seat cover if there are no layers underneath the baby. Nothing should ever be between or underneath their body and the harness straps. The baby’s face should be uncovered to avoid re-breathing or trapped air.
In case of a road emergency, pack an emergency bag for the care with nonperishable snacks, extra blankets, hats, gloves, and dry clothes. Remember, if an item did not come with the car seat, it has not been crash-tested and can interfere with protection in a car crash. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination; slow down and be cautious when driving in winter weather conditions.