Does traveling in bad weather with your children in the car make you nervous? Are you feeling overwhelmed with all of the rules of car seats? Are you dressing your child warm enough and following all the safety guidelines? When it comes to driving our kids, we can’t be too careful!
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or afraid, have no fear because a simple do and don’t safety list is here!
Do’s and Don’ts of Winter Car Safety-Kid Edition
- Do accelerate and decelerate slowly. Just drive slowly and do not let others push you to go faster. Give yourself plenty of time to stop. When I feel pressured by other cars, I just remind myself that they do not know how my car works, what I have in my car or anything about me. Remember, our children are precious cargo that are relying on us to keep them safe.
- Do increase your following distance time of 3-4 seconds to 8-10 seconds.
- Do become familiar with how fast your brakes respond.
- Do understand your car seat manual and car manual.
- Do dress your infant in one more layer than you. A child should wear close-fitting, thin layers. You can dress a baby in tights, leggings, or tighter pants on the bottom then layer pants on top. You can also layer your child in an undershirt, thermal-knit shirt, a sweater, or a thin fleece jacket on top.
- Do store the carrier portion of infant car seats inside the house when not in use to keep the seat at room temperature. This will reduce the loss of your child’s body heat in the car. If this isn’t possible, try to start your car beforehand.
- Do use blankets over the car seat straps on your child. Tuck the blankets around the baby to have a similar effect as the bundle me. Just make sure you do not put anything underneath your baby. You could also use the shower-cap-like car seat cover that fits over the top of the car seat.
- Do perform the pinch test on any car seats you have in your car. The straps need to be tight enough so they can protect the way they were designed to.
- Do store an emergency bag in your car. Fill it with extra blankets, dry clothing, hats and gloves, and non-perishable snacks in case of an emergency!
- Don’t power up hills or stop while going up a hill.
- Don’t drive as you usually would. This means be cautious when choosing to pull out into the road, merging, switching lanes, etc. Also, do not try to go through the intersection faster when a yellow light appears. Only continue through if it is safer than braking. Again, remember your children are with you, and even if you are a safe driver, not everyone is.
- Don’t go out in dangerous weather if you do not need to.
- Don’t forget hats, mittens, socks, booties, and blankets. If your child sucks his/her thumb, keep an extra pair of gloves with you so that you can replace them before going out. Cold mittens will not protect those little hands!
- Don’t put bulky clothing on a child, including winter coats and snowsuits. Bulky clothing leaves extra space under the harness, allowing a child to slip through and be thrown from the seat in a car crash.
- Don’t use any warm bundle system or blanket that goes underneath the baby in the car seat. Things like the “JJ Cole Original Infant Bundle Me” might seem so practical and warm for the baby but they are not safe. They are not crash-tested with your car seat and can interfere with the way the seat was designed to work. This product puts extra padding between your baby and the car seat. These slits do not often match the car seats, so the straps have to be re-routed. This would cause more slack in the car seat, meaning there would be less protection. I personally was given a Bundleme and thought the padding did not make a big difference. However, after doing research, I found that it will compress during an accident and increase the slack of the car seat’s straps.Car seat manufacturers do not recommend the Bundleme to be used (along with any inserts, toys, accessories, mirrors, or tightening devices that did not come with your car seat).
- Don’t rush out the door. It’s important to get an early start, so you have time to get your baby warm. You need plenty of time to get ready in case your baby is uncooperative. You also need to time to drive extra carefully in the winter conditions.
- Don’t cover the baby’s face with the blankets.
- Don’t forget to think about where you are driving to. If you are going to a place that will be hard to change clothes, then perhaps do not dress in too many layers, but rather use warmer blankets that can be removed. For example, my baby girl usually falls asleep in the car and remains asleep during some of the errands. So if I know I am going to be shopping, I dress my baby in warm clothes but rely on blankets for more of the warmth. Then I can pull the blankets off once we are in the store. I have noticed that if I dress her up in too many layers, my poor baby girl gets too hot and her cheeks turn red.
In summary, we cannot be too careful when it comes to driving our children. Follow the safety guidelines written here and in your car seat manual. Be safe and remember that being on time is not worth driving dangerously in winter weather.
For more tips on car seats and car seat safety, check out our Top Ten Best Car Seats Of 2018.