Advice

Aussie Paramedic’s Important Car Seat Warning

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With the winter months upon us, it is normal to start dressing in thick clothing to keep warm, especially our kiddos.

However, as former Ambulance Victoria paramedic and founder of Tiny Hearts Education, Nikki Jurcutz warns us in a widely viewed Instagram post, buckling children to their car seats with bulky coats can be dangerous.

Winter jacket and car seat warning 

As parents, we know car seats are essential to keep our young ones safe when traveling, even during short distances.

We are well aware that keeping our tots unrestrained or improperly restrained while taking any type of car trip can put them at risk of serious injury.

Yet, we rarely, if ever, consider the role clothing may play in car safety.

Why bulky jackets in a car seat can be dangerous
Source: Bigstock

In her post, Nikki explains that the thickness of puffer jackets creates extra space between the tot and the harness.

“The padding of the jacket will compress and suddenly your child is not secured and at risk of serious injury, even in a low-speed accident.”

Thick jackets often trap air amongst the layers and feathers inside the jacket, so in an accident, the jacket compresses, creating excessive space between bub and their car seat straps.”

Her post demonstrates a vivid safety demo to depict the potential outcome for a child wearing a winter jacket during an accident.

Tiny Hearts Education demonstrates why you shouldnt dress your child in puffer jackets in the car
Source: Instagram

When in doubt, do the jacket test

If you’re ever in doubt about your child’s safety while wearing a jacket in their car seat, Nikki shows us how we can conduct a jacket test to determine if their coat is indeed too thick.

In the video, she straps her toddler into a car seat while wearing a thick jacket and instructs the viewer to tighten the harness as you normally would.

She says,

“Remember to check your harness is tight enough, you shouldn’t be able to pinch any of the straps between your thumb and pointer finger.”

She then takes her bub out of the car seat without loosening the harness. She removes the jacket and straps him back in.

“If you need to tighten it, the jacket shouldn’t be worn in the car seat.”

Alternatives to keeping children warm in the car

You may be hesitant to remove your bub’s jacket while in the car for fear of them being too cold.

However, Nikki offers some simple tricks to keep your tot warm in the car.

  • Pre-warm the car before loading and strapping bub into their seat.
  • Dress bub in long sleeves, socks, and singlets for extra layers.
  • Have them wear a hat.
  • Keep an extra cozy blanket in the car and cover your tot outside the car seat. I always keep a cozy blanket in the car during the winter months. You just never know when it might come in handy.
  • For older children, put a jacket on backward over their arms outside of the seat belts.

Keep in mind you do not want to overdress your tot while in the car, especially if you use the car heater, as they may overheat.

A great eye-opener

The fact that Nikki’s puffer jacket and car seat warning post has accumulated so many views is a testament to the overwhelmingly positive response and the great eye-opener it has been to so many thankful parents.

Some commenters have even confessed they had no idea the impact thick clothing could have on their child’s car safety.

One commenter stated, “Oh what a great post, wouldn’t have thought of this! One to keep in mind.”

Another said, “Oh I didn’t know!! Glad I saw this it’s so cold I get worried to take it off.”

And yet another said, “I’ve wondered about this. Thank you.”

Additional car seat safety tips to keep in mind

Always ensure your car seat complies with the Australian and New Zealand Standards AS/NZS 1754.

Additionally:

  • Use a car seat that matches your tot’s height, not weight.
  • Don’t try to switch your tot to a new car seat too quickly.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Check the harness regularly and adjust as your tot grows.
  • Do not use overseas models that do not meet safety standards.

Car crashes, even minor ones, can cause severe injury to children.

Ensure you are following all car seat safety recommendations, including Nikki’s warning to never strap tots into car seats with puffer jackets, to keep your tot safe no matter how far you travel.

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Avatar of Gloria Ramirez

Gloria Ruby Ramirez is a writer, mother, and lover of coffee, twinkle lights, and rain who believes in the magical power of words. She is passionate about parenting, mental health, and the environment. She is a former agricultural microbiologist/plant pathologist with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Arizona State University. Born in the desert of northern Mexico, she is mum to her beautifully energetic son and Shih Tzu, Gerty. When not writing, Gloria can be found spending time with her son and family, reading, or embroidering.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar of Blossom

    It is better to use a summer onesie than a singlet. It covers baby/toddler’s body more and doesn’t roll up their back when they are trying to sleep in their cot / bed either. Put long clothing over the top as normal. We used to tuck a blanket around child over the top of the seat harness low enough that it couldn’t go onto child’s face at all. Use a beanie to keep head warm if needed. Having the heating in the car too warm can tend to make the driver drowsy

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