Winter Coats Can Impede Child Car Seat Safety

child wearing a coat on a car seat

While Palm Coast and Northeast Florida enjoy warm temperatures most of year, sometimes the temperatures in winter dip low enough for us to wrap our little ones in a coat. With the winter months approaching, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a reminder us that winter coats on children can be a car seat safety issue.

The AAP says, “As a general rule, bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat. In a car crash, fluffy padding immediately flattens out from the force, leaving extra space under the harness. A child can then slip through the straps and be thrown from the seat.”

Adults should not wear puffy coats with seatbelts because of the same hazard, according to the children’s health and safety advocates.

The AAP suggests laying your child’s coat on top of them over the car seat’s harness or putting it on your child backwards over the harness to secure it better as well as to keep their arms warm.

The broader safety tip to keep in mind is that multiple layers of clothing can make it difficult to properly tighten the harness of a child’s car seat. If you can pinch the straps of the car seat harness, then it needs to be tightened to fit snugly against your child’s chest.

Florida’s Child Seat Requirements

Florida law requires children age 5 and younger to be secured properly in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device. This must be a separate carrier or the vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat up to age 4, when a booster seat is allowed.

A violation of the law could cost you 3 points on your driver’s license. However, you may choose to attend a three-hour child restraint safety program at a cost of about $40 and have the penalty waived.

But ignoring child seat requirements is a mistake. No doubt, countless car accident injuries in Palm Coast and Palm Beach County have been averted because children were protected by properly installed child safety seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the lives of eight children age 4 and younger in Florida and 325 nationwide were saved by child restraints in 2017.

The Florida Department of Health says 34 children from infancy through age 5 died in motor vehicle accidents across the state in 2019. Two of those children died in Palm Beach County. On average, three children die in crashes each year in Palm Beach County and 42 die across Florida every year.

Child Car Seat Safety Reminders

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says car seats and boosters provide protection for infants and children in a crash, but car crashes remain a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. Because it’s important to use the right car seat correctly every time your child is in the car, NHTSA offers tons of safety information about car seats and booster seats on its website, including topics such as:

  • How to find the right car seat
  • Car seat installation parts and tips
  • Car seat installation instructions
  • Car seat inspections, including a search tool to find free inspections locally
  • Registering your car seat, so you’ll be notified if it is recalled
  • A used car seat safety checklist.

Among NHTSA’s recommendations for properly using a car seat, it says to:

  • Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, then choose a seat that fits in your vehicle, and use it every time.
  • Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions (including height and weight limits) and read the vehicle owner’s manual to properly install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.
  • To maximize safety, have your child use the car seat for as long as possible, as long as he or she fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
  • Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.

Injured in a Car Accident in Florida?

Even parents who properly secure their children in car seats every time and wear seatbelts themselves can get into car accidents caused by other negligent drivers. That’s when the experienced car accident lawyers at the Palm Coast law firm of Chiumento Law, PLLC can help. We can help you hold those responsible for a car crash accountable for the harm they have caused you and your family.

As your Palm Coast car accident attorneys, we can deal with the insurance adjusters and others involved in the aftermath of the accident. We can investigate to document your losses and then negotiate for appropriate payment to you from insurers covering the parties at fault. If the insurance company refuses to make a proper settlement offer, we’ll be ready to take your claim to court.

You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and more after a car accident, someone else has caused. Rather than butting heads with insurance companies that are focused on their own bottom lines, you should focus on your recovery and let us deal with the insurance adjusters.

We are your legal team for life. Call Chiumento Law, PLLC at (386) 445-8900 or contact us using our online form. The initial consultation is free, and we won’t charge a legal fee for any work we do unless we recover money for you. Call now.

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