It’s rather frosty out there, so we get out our children’s puffy winter coats – we want them to be toasty and comfy after all!
Did you know though, when hopping into the car with those puffy coats, it’s best to take them off?
Winter coats are warm because they trap air as an insulator. And that air, believe it or not, messes with our ability to tighten straps in a child’s car seat properly.
This video shows what happens when you tighten the seat straps really well with the coat on… and then rebuckle the child, using the same harness settings, without that coat:
Often when I share the above video, parents argue that surely if we tighten the straps as much as possible and the coat is still on, the gap wouldn’t be that big, actually?
Have a look at this video, which explains really well the “vacuum bag effect” of compression on the air in the jacket, and the difference even a small gap can make to a child’s safety. It also offers some ideas for keeping warm without puff:
All the above is not just true for small children in 5 point harnesses! Puffy coats also influence how a 3-point seat belt is guided along a passenger’s lap in a booster, or, indeed, on an adult seat. This video shows how the seat belt rides up on a winter coat and on impact (at only 16km/h!!!!) cuts into the abdomen. Compare this to the dummies without coat, where the seat belt stays flat on the lap. When wearing a winter coat and 3-point belt, get everyone to lift their coat and guide the lap belt along their hips underneath the coat:
Have a safe winter!
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