NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - With winter just days away and temperatures dropping, health and safety professionals want to remind parents of car seat safety as the weather changes.
Julia Phelps, Safe Kids Cape Fear Coordinator and Injury Prevention Health Educator for the New Hanover County Health Department urges parents and caretakers to take coats off babies and children before putting them in a car seat.
“In the winter we’re all bundled up as it gets colder and it’s important that before we put a child or baby in the car seat that we take off all those extra layers to eliminate any extra space between the child’s body and the harness,” Phelps said.
She recommends removing any layer thicker than a thin sweater while a child is in either a rear or front-facing five point harness car seat.
It is safe to put the child’s coat or a blanket over them if necessary.
“It really can be a matter of life and death. We really want to avoid that extra space and that puffiness. The force from an accident that can be exerted is going to compress that coat and those layers much more than you and I even if we think we’ve got that tight and secure on the child,” she explained.
The same rule can also be applied for children in booster seats using regular seat belts. Phelps said the closer the belt is to the child, the safer they will be in the event of a crash.
Phelps also reminds parents to make sure anyone driving their child knows how to properly install a car seat each time the child is in the car, no matter how long the distance.
“We can have a lot of people transport our kids who don’t normally or typically transport our kids, potentially more carpooling going on. So making sure that the seats are always properly installed every single time. Not getting slack just because we’re going down the road,” she said.
All New Hanover County and Wilmington fire stations have a trained professional to aid you or any caretaker with child car seat training free of charge.