How bad is it to leave coats on in car seats? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 157 Old 12-18-2009, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I always take my 1 year old DS's coat off (he's RF-ing, of course), but I tend to leave my 3 YO DD's coat on. DD is 37", 36 lbs, and FF-ing in a Nautilus. Her coat adds a little to her size, but not much (ulike DS, whose coat is bulkier than he is).

I know this isn't ideal, but how un-ideal is it? Is it really unsafe, a little unsafe? On a scale of 1 - 10, maybe.

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#2 of 157 Old 12-18-2009, 09:54 PM
 
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If it's anything more bulky than non-fluffy polar fleece, yeah, it's pretty dangerous. There are ways you can mitigate that, by using polar fleece, by unzipping the coat, doing up the harness and tightening and zipping the coat over it, or taking the coat off and then putting it on backwards once the harness is done up.

In an accident, all that extra material compresses, leaving the child at risk for severe head and neck injuries or in a worst case scenario ejection from the seat.

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#3 of 157 Old 12-18-2009, 09:58 PM
 
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It depends on how much bulk it adds. A thinner coat is not an issue generally. A puffy one would be very, very unsafe. To reduce bulk, unzip the coat and push the flaps out th sides of the harness, then buckle. The only extra bulk will be behind them, and at their shoulders. If you tighten the harness, then unbuckle and take the coat off, re-buckle, and the harness is too loose, the coat is adding too much bulk.
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#4 of 157 Old 12-20-2009, 07:40 PM
 
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IF it so incredibly dangerous then why does Canada not have higher rates of neck injuries, ejection and death for children then the US? I have lived in Canada all my life and during the winter months (2-6 month period depending where you live) I would say 90% of parents put their children -especially young ones- in winter coats (and not fleece ones). Many of there are "puffy". I have known a number of people who had car accidents and even some who died but never even heard of a child being ejected because of a puffy coat.
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#5 of 157 Old 12-20-2009, 07:46 PM
 
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IF it so incredibly dangerous then why does Canada not have higher rates of neck injuries, ejection and death for children then the US? I have lived in Canada all my life and during the winter months (2-6 month period depending where you live) I would say 90% of parents put their children -especially young ones- in winter coats (and not fleece ones). Many of there are "puffy". I have known a number of people who had car accidents and even some who died but never even heard of a child being ejected because of a puffy coat.
Um, because people in the US wear coats too.

Lots of babies and children are ejected. We just had a 2 month old ejected last week!

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#6 of 157 Old 12-20-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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IF it so incredibly dangerous then why does Canada not have higher rates of neck injuries, ejection and death for children then the US? I have lived in Canada all my life and during the winter months (2-6 month period depending where you live) I would say 90% of parents put their children -especially young ones- in winter coats (and not fleece ones). Many of there are "puffy". I have known a number of people who had car accidents and even some who died but never even heard of a child being ejected because of a puffy coat.
It has happened. In fact it happened very recently in Alaska although miraculously the child survived. I personally have been on the scene of an infant killed in that exact manner. However, every day children suffer injuries, often times severe, in accidents, that could have been avoided if the child was strapped in CORRECTLY.

Car crashes are the number one killer of children in the US over one. Many of those children are restrained in child restraints, but not restrained correctly.

Just because you personally don't know anyone it happened to, does not mean it doesn't happen, nor does it mean it's not a serious risk.

It is not necessary to wear a coat in a car seat, and parents, even Canadian parents, who use their child restraints correctly do not do it.

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#7 of 157 Old 12-20-2009, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. I'm so glad you all are here to help me keep my kids safe.

Mom to DD 7 and DS 5.
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#8 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 12:18 AM
 
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It is not necessary to wear a coat in a car seat, and parents, even Canadian parents, who use their child restraints correctly do not do it.
It gets to minus 30 celsius here plus windchill on a regular basis. And although I would love to I do not often have the luxury of being able preheat the car (plus to really have it warm it would need to idle for at least 15 minutes). Plus, even if the car was warm the seat itself I find to be very cold & worry about that chill getting into him from underneath.

I do have a thinner coat we use for the car & puffy snowsuit for when we're outside but I honestly find it totally unreasonable in these conditions to be undressing my baby in weather where just taking my mittens off to do up the buckles has them hurting from the cold.

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#9 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 12:28 AM
 
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It gets to minus 30 celsius here plus windchill on a regular basis. And although I would love to I do not often have the luxury of being able preheat the car (plus to really have it warm it would need to idle for at least 15 minutes). Plus, even if the car was warm the seat itself I find to be very cold & worry about that chill getting into him from underneath.

I do have a thinner coat we use for the car & puffy snowsuit for when we're outside but I honestly find it totally unreasonable in these conditions to be undressing my baby in weather where just taking my mittens off to do up the buckles has them hurting from the cold.
There are Canadian parents who make the choice to keep their children safe in the car. I understand that it gets cold in Canada; that does not change the laws of physics.

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#10 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 12:32 AM
 
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Not to threadjack, but what are the best videos about babies in puffy jackets? I know I've seen a few really good ones on here, but I didn't bookmark them at the time.

I was helping my SIL get her kids in the car today after a visit and when I went to tighten the strap on her 4mo-old, she told me not to, because she needs it that loose for his warmer snowsuit and can't loosen it after. (She just switched him into his sibling's old Eddie Bauer 3-in-1.) Besides the fact that to me that means she needs a new carseat for him, I'd like to educate her about the dangers! At the time I was so taken aback I didn't say much, but the more I think about it the more I'm freaking out!

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#11 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 12:37 AM
 
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Maedze - I'm curious where you live?

Seriously I am waaaaaaay more cautious about carseat use than a single other person I know IRL. But to go without a coat WOULD be putting my baby at risk of hypothermia. I do a thinner coat, warm boots, hat & mitts & a blanket on top. But removing a coat altogether just is not practical or safe in this environment.

Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).

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#12 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 12:44 AM
 
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I live in Massachusetts. In the winter it's not as cold as it is there. We're usually in the teens and twenties, sometimes dipping down around zero, 10 below when it gets bitter. (this is Fahrenheit, of course)

However, it's really entirely irrelevant. Whether or not it's cold, it is NOT SAFE TO WEAR A COAT IN A CAR SEAT.

There are MANY safe alternatives to keep your child warm without also endangering your child's life. I know parents who use them. Parents who live in Canada and Alaska, where I'm sure you'll appreciate that it gets even colder than it does here.

I'm not going to argue with you over your choices. The facts are that it isn't safe. If you choose to ignore that, it's certainly your prerogative.

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#13 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 12:48 AM
 
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I've always been skeptical about this idea that coats in carseats are so dangerous. Can anyone cite some evidence? (Not just an authoritative source that claims it's dangerous, but actual evidence.) These examples of babies being ejected from their carseats - is there evidence that the straps were tight until the baby's coat was compressed in the accident, or is it possible that the straps simply weren't tightened enough?

It seems to me that if the coat is very compressible, you ought to be able to compress it fairly well while tightening the straps. I can see that the force of an accident would be likely to compress the coat even more, but is it really common for it to be enough more to make a significant difference? I'm not saying I think it's impossible for this to be a real risk, I'm just saying I'd like to hear some proof.
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#14 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 01:04 AM
 
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There are Canadian parents who make the choice to keep their children safe in the car. I understand that it gets cold in Canada; that does not change the laws of physics.
No but leaving your car running to warm it up DOES go against the law in many areas. Honestly the ONLY place that I have ever in my life heard mention of a child being injured because they were wearing a coat in a carseat is on this forum and one other. And to say that it's absolutely not safe for a child to wear a coat in a carseat in not entirely true. It is considered not safe for a child to wear a coat in a carseat if you have to loosen the straps. If the child is buckled in correctly and you are able to maintain that strap tension by compressing the coat and buckle them in at the same point, then there is NO additional risk.
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#15 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 01:07 AM
 
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Maedze,

I think you're underestimating the issue of Cold in Canada. I've lived in Chicago, which I'm going to guess is similar to most of Massachussetts. Yes, it was cold, but I'd still run from class to class without a coat, or go outside for longer periods without gloves or a hat but just a sweatshirt hood and my hands in my pocket.

I also lived in Canada and it was different. Running outside to pick up the newspaper was cold enough to make you cry. Taking off your gloves to tie a shoelace was painful. When I left the house in the morning to go to the bus stop it was routinely 40 degrees below zero. If I was still zipping my coat when I walked out the door, the cold would get inside and I'd be miserable for hours. If you want to think about the difference between that 40 degrees and the 10 below which you describe as "bitter" think of the difference between 70 degrees (too cool to swim) and 100.

In that kind of climate, you can cause physical pain to your child if they aren't in a coat long enough to strap the straps. Frostbite is a real risk if your child kicks off a blanket while the car is still warming up.

I also have to say that on this board it often appears as if there's too categories a behavior can fall in to -- safe, and not safe. The reality is different. Statistics tell us that every time you put your child into the car you're taking a risk (just as you would be if you walked somewhere, or stayed home) and that there are things you can do to mitigate these risks. Some of these things are easy to do and it makes sense to be judgemental of those people who don't do them. But there's no bright line between "safe" and "unsafe", and every parent needs to decide where the line is for them as an individual. A Canadian parent who decides that buying a coat with Thinsulate instead of down, and compressing it as tightly as they can, is where the line is for them isn't making a horrible choice. They're making a different choice than you are.
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#16 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 01:08 AM
 
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I live in Alaska...trust me I understand cold weather. My kids don't wear coats in the car. It is totally, 100% do-able.

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#17 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 01:21 AM
 
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momily - you said it better than I could.

Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).

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#18 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 01:26 AM
 
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I live in Alaska...trust me I understand cold weather. My kids don't wear coats in the car. It is totally, 100% do-able.
Instead of just saying "it's doable", can you describe your situation an routine so that people can see whether it's applicable? Do you have a garage or driveway close to your house? Do you have a remote car start, and/or live in an area where allowing your car to idle an warm up is legal? Do you have a mini van or other vehicle that's big enough for you to close the door and keep the wind out while you buckle your kids in? What exactly are they wearing in their carseats?

I think that practical suggestions, an discussions of different circumstances might be more helpful here than judgment.

I'd still like to see someone post statistics as well.
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#19 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 01:32 AM
 
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Coats are fine as long as you don't have to adjust the straps out to accomodate the extra bulk. I usually have the kids in good-quality fleece over thermal tops, and put their warm coats on as we leave the car. Anthing that requires you let the straps out is too thick and not safe, period.

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#20 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 01:34 AM
 
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Instead of just saying "it's doable", can you describe your situation an routine so that people can see whether it's applicable? Do you have a garage or driveway close to your house? Do you have a remote car start, and/or live in an area where allowing your car to idle an warm up is legal? Do you have a mini van or other vehicle that's big enough for you to close the door and keep the wind out while you buckle your kids in? What exactly are they wearing in their carseats?

I think that practical suggestions, an discussions of different circumstances might be more helpful here than judgment.

I'd still like to see someone post statistics as well.
I am nak'ing and need to run to the store but when I come back i would be more than happy to give a more detailed post.

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#21 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 03:53 AM
 
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Do you have a garage or driveway close to your house?
Yes, this year we do. Last year, we did not.


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Do you have a remote car start,
No.

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and/or live in an area where allowing your car to idle an warm up is legal?
Yes, it is legal to idle here. Personally, I don't do it, because my car warms up much faster when I'm driving, so sitting and waiting for it to warm up is counter-productive.

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Do you have a mini van or other vehicle that's big enough for you to close the door and keep the wind out while you buckle your kids in?
Yes, we have two minivans, but no we cannot and do not climb inside while we buckle.

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What exactly are they wearing in their carseats?
My two older kids (2.5 and 4 years old) wear a "base" layer of tights and a long-sleeved top. Over this, they wear a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of legging-type pants, and a pair of socks. Then a hat, mittens, a good-quality fleece pullover, and their boots. They go in the car, with a warm blanket over them.

DS (5 months) will wear a cotton jammie, with socks under it. Over that I will put a fleece one-piece like this, and his shoes and hat and his little mitten-type things (without the thumbs). He has his blanket tucked around him as well.

When we get to our destination, as I unbuckle each child I slip their thick coats on. It only takes an additional few seconds to get them on for each child. DS I just pick him up and carry him wrapped in his blanket, or carry his carseat in, depending on whether he's in his infant seat or his convertible. My older kids carry their blankets into the store.

When we leave the store, we stop inside the doors and get everyone bundled again. I'll load DS back into his bucket, tuck his blanket around him and carry him out like that. I'll unlock the car, start it, and load the kids into their seats --not buckled, just setting in their seat. While I load the groceries and put the cart back they sit like that, then I take coats off, buckle, and tuck their blankets around them.

Some people forgo the blankets and instead tuck the child's coat over the top of them.

Also, I've never tried this but it's a good idea: instead of removing the coat altogether, you can unzip the coat, buckle the child into the seat, and then re-zip the coat around the harness. That reduces much of the bulk but I've never tried it since it takes quite a bit of extra time for me to fumble with the zippers.


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I'd still like to see someone post statistics as well.
If I had some I would definitely share, but I don't know what kind of statistics you are looking for I will try to find something relevant, but I don't know if ejections were rated as to cause; usually if there is a thick coat, the ejection would probably be attributed to loose straps.

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#22 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 05:21 AM
 
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]
If I had some I would definitely share, but I don't know what kind of statistics you are looking for I will try to find something relevant, but I don't know if ejections were rated as to cause; usually if there is a thick coat, the ejection would probably be attributed to loose straps.
Statistics that show that there are more ejections (taking into account that accident rates and types probably vary in the snow) in the winter, or in colder climates than in the summer in, say, Florida.

I think that the PP's suggestion that if not wearing coats contributed significantly to safety, we'd see different ejection or injury rates in Florida vs. Alaska, or the U.S. vs. Canada.
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#23 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 08:25 AM
 
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Anthing that requires you let the straps out is too thick and not safe, period.
That's only true if you assume all the extra thickness will be compressed to nothing in an accident. And surely that's not a realistic assumption for every coat?

I can see how a thick coat might fool parents into thinking the straps are tighter than they really are. But if a coat is made of a material that will compress a lot in an accident, it also ought to be possible for the parent to compress the coat quite a bit by pulling the straps good and tight. I wonder if the message ought to be not "Don't put a coat on your kid," but "If your kid is wearing a coat, make sure you pull the carseat straps as tight as you can."
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#24 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 08:27 AM
 
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Also, I've never tried this but it's a good idea: instead of removing the coat altogether, you can unzip the coat, buckle the child into the seat, and then re-zip the coat around the harness. That reduces much of the bulk but I've never tried it since it takes quite a bit of extra time for me to fumble with the zippers.
I don't understand this at all. If the child is wearing the coat the zippers are UNDER the harness, you can't have them outside it again. The only way to do that would be to have slits/gaps in the sides and shoulders of the coat to feed the straps through. You could remove the coat, buckle the child and then put the coat on back to front over the straps, but you couldn't both buckle the child in the coat into the straps AND have the zippers still be on the outside of those straps.
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#25 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 09:28 AM
 
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I don't understand this at all. If the child is wearing the coat the zippers are UNDER the harness, you can't have them outside it again. The only way to do that would be to have slits/gaps in the sides and shoulders of the coat to feed the straps through. You could remove the coat, buckle the child and then put the coat on back to front over the straps, but you couldn't both buckle the child in the coat into the straps AND have the zippers still be on the outside of those straps.
You put the child in the seat, unzip the coat, and pull the zippers out from under the harness before you do up the strap. so the coat is no longer between the child and the harness, but now sticks out through the arm holes. Then zip up over the harness after you do it up. It's called the coat trick... Here's a video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLTVPqn0aR8

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#26 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 11:17 AM
 
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That's only true if you assume all the extra thickness will be compressed to nothing in an accident. And surely that's not a realistic assumption for every coat?

I can see how a thick coat might fool parents into thinking the straps are tighter than they really are. But if a coat is made of a material that will compress a lot in an accident, it also ought to be possible for the parent to compress the coat quite a bit by pulling the straps good and tight. I wonder if the message ought to be not "Don't put a coat on your kid," but "If your kid is wearing a coat, make sure you pull the carseat straps as tight as you can."
No, it really isn't possible to compress that much by hand. A crash can easily exert two tons of force. I can't (and I work out!). Get one of those Space Bags -- you know, the kind you suck air out with a vacuum? Put a puffy coat in. Suck all the air out. Fluff it back up. Try to compress it that much by hand.

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#27 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 11:35 AM
 
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http://car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=29772

has a good photo tutorial for putting a harness on under a jacket, without completing removing the jacket.

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#28 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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I'm in Manitoba, Canada. I know cold... we just got done with an early -40C/F with windchill cold snap. And we do not do puffy coats in the car seat so it's doable in this kind of climate, it just takes a small bit of prep and maybe an extra minute or two, at the MOST, when buckling in the kids.

I was like many here posting in this thread, I doubted how risky it really was. So then I followed the suggestion of someone from here, I strapped DD in her seat with her parka on, tightened the straps as much as I could (and what I thought was safe). Then I took DD out, took off her parka and put her back in the seat and did NOT readjust the harness. I was absolutely FLOORED how loose the straps were. Another little girl DD's size could've sat on her lap and they would've have fit under the harness straps!

My youngest has a polar fleece bunting that he wears in his carseat. (I have flogged the heck out of this suit on here, lol, but it is such an awesome bunting.) I do not have to readjust the straps for this suit and on bitterly cold days, I throw a double layer fleece blanket over him as I carry him out and put it over him after he's strapped in. He always has mitts, a toque and his Stonz booties on, so I know he's staying toasty.

DD is the one that requires the extra minute or two. She's 4.5 and in a 5pt harness. And she has a god awful, huge, puffy parka. So on the really cold days when she *has* to wear her parka, we do the "coat trick"and zip the coat up over her harness. Doing this does take an extra minute or two but it's worth it for the peace of mind. When it's not bitterly cold, she wears her 3 season jacket (rated to -15C) and I can do up the harness fine over that. However, for her, I am going to buy her this polar fleece jacket and make her a long double layer fleece poncho to wear over it. With a warm toque, neck warmer and mitts, that will suffice on even our bitterly cold days AND keep her safe.

Mama to my 3 wild things.

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#29 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 11:58 AM
 
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Forgot to mention, I do not have a garage and we are not allowed to idle our vehicles, as you can be ticketed. My van does have an interior car warmer that we plug in at night but when it's -40 overnight, it really doesn't warm the car up that much. It basically saves me from having to scrape windows in the morning. Having said that, I do go out and start the van right before I have the kids get ready to go so it does run for about 5 minutes. Again, not long enough to get the van warm but it takes the edge off the cold. Once I start driving, it's only a matter of a minute or two before the van really warms up.

Mama to my 3 wild things.

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#30 of 157 Old 12-21-2009, 12:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sweetcheeks View Post
II was like many here posting in this thread, I doubted how risky it really was. So then I followed the suggestion of someone from here, I strapped DD in her seat with her parka on, tightened the straps as much as I could (and what I thought was safe). Then I took DD out, took off her parka and put her back in the seat and did NOT readjust the harness. I was absolutely FLOORED how loose the straps were. Another little girl DD's size could've sat on her lap and they would've have fit under the harness straps!
This is the suggestion you see everywhere - see how loose the straps are after you take the coat off, and assume that's how loose they will be in an accident. But for them really to be that loose, the coat has to become completely compressed - thin as a sheet of paper. Is it realistic to think that will happen? Are there studies or experiments that show this happens? Crash tests with dummies wearing coats? Can anyone provide any actual data about how serious a problem this is?
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