When the cold hits and you are with a baby in your car, you can do several things in addition to turning the AC off. There are some car products designed specifically for this function, the only issue is that they might also be a bit unsafe. Let us consider the warmth and safety of the child while in the car; there are some precautions you need to apply while in the car.
The rationale in saying that some of the products are unsafe is that they limit the level of effectiveness achieved by the safety belt. When your three or four months old baby is wearing a winter coat, the extra layer of warm clothing usually has wool to act as an insulator. This wool gives warmth to the child, but increases the risk of the baby getting injured in the event of a crash.
Look at it this way; the woolen winter jacket is thick but not solid. Once you hear the click of the belt locking, the safety belt has, in real sense, not fully secured the child, as the jacket prevents it from doing so. As you drive, the belt will press the jacket in and the woolen part will align itself to the belt, making it possible for the child to be thrown out during a time of impact.
- Determining the safety of the winter coat
Determining the safety of a coat is done in two simple ways. First, with the child wearing the coat, seat them on the car and strap them in. Once secured, try pulling the child upwards form the seat. If the pull actions provide some movement, then tighten the shoulder straps a little bit to make them tighter. Once tightened, try sliding your finger between the safety belts to see how much room they leave between them and the body.
If the belt straps allow you to slide in more than one finger, then the winter coat is not safe for use in the car and you should look for an alternative.
- What then do you use if winter coats are a risk?
Newborn babies can be dressed in a manner of ways that makes them safe and warm in the car. What you do is dress them in clothes that fit them well and apply layered dressing. Layered dressing is whereby you dress the child in several clothes. In doing this, you ensure that there will be no space left for sliding out of the car car’s safety belt during a crash. Place the baby on the car seat and pull the straps to hold firmly.
For extra safety, you can use a baby’s safety belt that comes with an adjustable lever installed, as this will enable you to fasten the baby more. Once you have made sure that the child is firmly held by the belt, now get some warm blankets and tuck them around the baby to maintain warm. While using the blankets, be sure not to cover his or her face, as this will make the child uncomfortable.
In addition, as you drive, the car will heat up and if necessary, remove the blankets to avoid the baby from being too warm which will make them irritable.
- Older kids
This is where the going gets tough, as older kids will be more stubborn especially when tied down to a seat. In this case, you follow the above procedure as above and take extra precaution when it comes to the strapping in, when in the car seat. Older kids have gathered enough intelligence to know that by playing around with the belt buckle, they can release themselves from the prison created by the belt. To avoid this, you should have the belt buckle modified to have a safety lock for use with a child.
Once you have strapped the child in, turn on the safety lock feature as no matter how much the child tries to press the red buckle release switch, it will not budge. When buying the modified belt, be careful not to buy one that is hard to unlock as you may have trouble getting the child out of the car should an emergency arise. Test it several times while in the shop to ascertain the ease of unlocking the safety lock, and that it is good enough.
Keep safe, fellow parents!
Chad is a car safety specialist and he specializes on training and instructing on the safest ways of using cars especially when babies are on board. More information can be accessed on procarhelp.com.