or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › Family Safety › The real risk of coats in car seats--could someone give me resources.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

The real risk of coats in car seats--could someone give me resources.

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 

I live in Northern Canada, and have recently heard that people are not putting their children in carseats in coats. I have heard that they could compress and fit (shoulders and all) through the head hole and be ejected.

 

So I don't understand exactly how a child would fit through the head hole.

 

My other concern is....is it doable to not wear a coat in -40C weather? Is the risk of hypothermia more of a risk than risk of being ejected?

 

What are my options.

post #2 of 68

http://www.justmommies.com/blog/2010/11/im-guilty/

 

And, yes, it's dangerous for adults to wear coats in the car for the same reason... your seat belt will not be snug against your body, and will not hold you as well in a crash.  If you have the heater on in your car, your child will not get hypothermia.  If it is warm enough for you, it's warm enough for your little one.  After buckling, you can always layer on warm wool blankets if necessary.  

 

Even if the child isn't 100% ejected from the seat (though that is possible), they are still at risk of major injuries.  A FF child will be thrown violently forward, putting great strain on the neck and spinal cord.  Since the loose straps would allow for much more movement, his head could hit the seat in front of him, as would his arms and legs, at speeds that easily break bones.  A RF child will be thrown up and back.  If the straps are loose, she could easily ride up high enough in her car seat for her head to be thrown back over the top of the seat, resulting in major head and neck injuries.

 

Even if it was a choice between hypothermia and broken necks/spinal injuries, I'd choose the hypothermia hands-down.  Hypothermia is treatable.  Of course, hypothermia is easily prevented, even without coats in the car.

post #3 of 68

Here is one video I saw on FB a couple weeks ago that showed it:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNGT9eBL_gg

post #4 of 68

You can wear long underwear, then clothes with fleece over the top - as long as you dont have to loosen the straps to put the kid in, then its ok.  

 

Instead of a coat, use a double layer carseat poncho on-top, or a coat on backwards (over the harness after its buckled tight), or just pile on blankets and when you get where you are going (the car will be warmed up at that point), get out of the carseat and put the coat on and then open the doors.  

post #5 of 68
We buckle the child into the seat, and then put the heavy coat on backwards, over the buckles, tucked in around the child. The child is safe, and warm, and there's not any hypothermia risk-- the child is only out of the coat for a few seconds.
post #6 of 68

nak

 

i'm trying to figure out how to keep my baby warm too.  when it's -40 out my car doesn't warm up to freezing even, so i need to figure out how i can strap him in then bundle him so that he stays bundled (he's an escape artist).  I may need blankets...

post #7 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Sonja View Post

Here is one video I saw on FB a couple weeks ago that showed it:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNGT9eBL_gg



Thanks for that video link... a fb friend recently posted a picture of her little boy harnessed in with a big leather coat on.  I'm going to post this video on my fb!

post #8 of 68

Also, note that belt webbing (like in the harness) stretches during a crash.  Not like elastic, but surely the head-hole will be larger that it started out with.  The force of the child's body will force the chest clip down and the "head hole" will become bigger.

 

Think of putting the coat in a space saver bag- it will greatly decrease the volume that it takes up.  Same goes with crash forces- they will compress the coat, the air will come out, and your harness won't be as "snug" as you once thought it was.

 

If you have to loosen the harness to accommodate a piece of clothing, the piece of clothing is interfering and is too thick/bulky.

 

And yes, I know it's a pain.  I'm  a Chicagoan and it gets cold here too !

post #9 of 68

I don't intend to be a jerk here, but are there documented cases of children being ejected because they were wearing winter coats? My two children in car seats have very flat dense (think wool) coats that wouldn't be able to compress that much and I tighten every time I put them in. I tighten a heck of a lot more than that lady in the video. I have to loosen it back up every time to be able to get it buckled and then re-tighten. My oldest has a puffy coat, but it is easier with a booster and a 7 year old to work around it. It takes me longer to buckle all three of my kids in (3 across so hard to reach) and warm and de-ice the car than it does to drive them to school. The entire time, we are outside in the freezing cold with the door open (no way I can assist them without standing outside). They'd be freezing their asses off if they were not wearing coats during that whole ordeal. As it is even with coats they are complaining about the cold. And we don't even live in an especially frigid area like Canada. For those with the luxury of a garage and a van I guess I can imagine this working, but the rest of us would like to see the proof that being cold and miserable every morning is going to actually pay off if there is a crash.

post #10 of 68

I mean, seriously, the OP is talking about negative 40 degrees and you all are telling her to wear thin microfleece or put a poncho on. Crazy. The risk of hypothermia is clearly higher than the theoretical (which nobody seems to be able to quantify) risk of ejection in the possibility of an accident.

post #11 of 68
What about buying a remote starter and warming your car up first? I don't see how hypothermia would be a risk then, b/c by the time you have to remove the child's coat for 5 seconds to buckle them in (and then put it on backwards, or use blankets), the heater will be going strong.
post #12 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post

 

And yes, I know it's a pain.  I'm  a Chicagoan and it gets cold here too !



The coldest temp. EVER recorded in Chicago is -33 celsius which is warmer than what the op is talking about.

post #13 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post

nak

 

i'm trying to figure out how to keep my baby warm too.  when it's -40 out my car doesn't warm up to freezing even, so i need to figure out how i can strap him in then bundle him so that he stays bundled (he's an escape artist).  I may need blankets...



I can't even imagine (I live in the desert).   so, the car never warms up past zero the whole time you are driving?  Brrrr. 

post #14 of 68
Indie (Hey! orngbiggrin.gif) I have been looking and looking for documented cases of excursion or ejection where the fault lay or where additional damage was probably done by a child wearing a winter coat. So far I haven't been able to find anything. Lots of theory and explanations (which I get!) but no actual cases. Anyone else have actual documented cases?

Jenne
post #15 of 68

I do know of a situation where some kids were buckled in and died of hypothermia (didn't have their coats on, high school kids driving desolate winter roads in Wyoming).  The parents were told that the kids would have lived if they'd had their coats on to keep them warm 'til their wreck was noticed.  They didn't die from their injuries, but from hypothermia (coupled with broken limbs or etc. preventing them from doing anything to GET warm).  They were friends of my cousins. 

 

.... I think layers with fleece and bringing the winter coats along is a good option - start the car to warm it up before you go and bring the winter coats with you if you're going to an outdoor activity (meeting friends at the sled hill or whatever).  Bringing a warm blanket to toss over kids once they're buckled but doors are still open/vehicle is cold, is also a good idea (I had a drafty old car that I used to drive with a blanket over my lap and legs, when I was in high school and college!). 

 

Thanks for asking the question, and for the blog link.  I was a little skeptical 'til I read the link - and showed my dh and thought he'd be skeptical but he's all for changing how we do things.  I'm not worried about hypothermia or exposure if we get in a wreck while we're running errands 'round town! 

 

ETA:  Where I grew up, high in the mountains in MT, I remember regularly (nothing anyone every commented about, it was just the normal winter thing) temperatures of 40 below (F and C are the same at that temp) - sometimes lasting for a couple weeks without ever cracking above 0 and they never calculated the wind temperature on the forecasts they'd just say "plus windchill.")  So, wanted to clarify that while OP is talking about cold weather and probably has longer periods of cold weather than those of us to the south, there are parts of the Lower 40 that still can become very cold.  That said, it never got that cold when I was by Lake Michigan - lake effect, I don't know?  ;)  I think my solution is one I'd use, even at those very cold temperatures - layers, fleece on top, warm blanket to bundle 'round them while whisking into vehicle as quickly as I can, and preheat the car before we go anywhere so it has a chance to warm up.  The blankets are also nice because when it is that cold, no matter how good the car's heater is, there is a cold, cold space near the windows. 

 

And, the cold is also a major reason we went with a bucket system for our infant seats.  We would use one of the fleece covers on the bucket seat, load her in the house, tuck 1-2 blankets around her, fleece cover over all - they never got cold - by the time the cold would have penetrated, the heater was warm enough that they were fine. 

 

Most of the time when I'm traveling, I'm in town so if there were a wreck, hypothermia wouldn't be a concern - there'd be people right there to help immediately, so the fleece and blankets would be fine.  When we do longer road trips on winter roads (which is frequently) we always have winter coats and blankets right by the kids so we can cover them quickly and we do so if the roads get dicey.  We travel a lot on isolated roads ....

 

I do think it's important to also remember, snow boots and hats are still going to be keeping a lot of heat retained on kiddos.  If they're wearing a good warm hat and their boots (and maybe mittens) that will help a lot with the cold temperatures as the car is warming up more while you're driving.  We lose a TON of heat through our heads, the hats help! 


Edited by elanorh - 12/9/10 at 10:33pm
post #16 of 68

In such freezing temperatures, you could use the "coat trick" or put the coat on backwards after strapping the child in.  The "coat trick" is demonstrated in the first link I posted and at around 2:45 in this video.  

post #17 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2soren View Post

In such freezing temperatures, you could use the "coat trick" or put the coat on backwards after strapping the child in.  The "coat trick" is demonstrated in the first link I posted and at around 2:45 in this video.  


In temperatures like the OP is describing, this is what I would do. It eliminates the issue entirely-- even if the risk of compression and ejection is theoretical, the "coat trick" solves both problems-- the child is wearing the coat, and the child is in the seat properly.

I don't know that this is the kind of thing that IS documented. All you'll find, I'm pretty sure, is anecdotal stories-- because there's no agency out there with the mandate to collect this kind of information. There's a good discussion of that here:
http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=150956
Just like you won't find many "documented cases" of three year olds being ejected from boosters they were too small for, either-- and yet you will find the anecdotal stories of that, too. Nobody's collecting the information, and sorting accidents based on these risk factors. So what we have is the theoretical risk, based on what we know about the way car seats perform in crashes and crash tests.
Edited by Llyra - 12/10/10 at 8:27am
post #18 of 68
Okay, so are there crash tests where dummies are wearing coats and then not wearing coats?

Jenne
post #19 of 68
I have not been able to find any. It seems, from what I'm finding out, that they haven't been done.

That doesn't negate the potential danger. Nobody's done crash tests to find out what happens if you get in a crash with a case of beer on your lap either (to my knowledge!) but I think my common sense can supply the answer.
post #20 of 68

It's not something that the government tests, because it's in all the manuals anyway.  

 

I live in Alaska, and we get similar temperatures.  Of course we worry about cold temperatures, and want kids to be comfortable, but also want to reduce their risk of injury or death.  

 

You can test the coat--strap kid on with the coat, and tighten the straps.  Then take the coat off, without tightening the straps, and buckle the child again.  Push the chest clip down (as this happens in a crash) and see how much room there is between the coat and the child.  ANY amount of slack introduces risk of injury or death--more movement is more risk of spinal or neck injuries, head injuries from impacting the side of the car or other objects, etc.  

 

There was a case here last year where a baby was ejected from the car and lived (miraculously).  We also had a 6yo die last month from being ejected, but who knows what the circumstances were.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Family Safety
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › Family Safety › The real risk of coats in car seats--could someone give me resources.