With temperatures plummeting as we enter the winter months, parents are being warned about the dangers of strapping their child into a car seat while they are dressed in a winter jacket.
It might feel natural to keep your child warm in the cold weather, but the practice could actually be highly dangerous, as it risks the effectiveness of their seat belt.
Here’s everything you need to know
Make sure harness is tight enough
A crash test by NBC in the US showed the dangers of what happens when a child is still wearing a thick winter coat. The result can potentially be a child being thrown free of the seat.
This is because, while the seat belt might feel tightly strapped around the child's body, it is actually only tight around the thick coat. In the event of a car accident, the child could be flung forward, risking injury that could have been prevented.
Emily A. Thomas PhD warns that winter coats should not be worn underneath a car seat harness because they can leave the belt too loose to be effective.
Writing for Consumer Reports, an independent organisation that conducts research on behalf of consumers, she said, "One of the most common problems with a child car seat is that the harness is left too loose and wearing a big winter coat can be just one of the causes.
“It's important that the harness is tight enough so that you can't pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. Extra slack in the harness can let the child move to the point where he or she is beyond the protection of the car seat, perhaps even being ejected during a crash."
How to keep your child warm while travelling in the car
Advice from Good Egg Car Safety Blog gives parents tips on how to keep their child warm and safe whilst travelling this winter.
For children, hats and gloves can stay on, but remove any thick coat and replace with a blanket that is tucked in over the harness once they are strapped in. A good way to test if the belt is tight enough is to make sure you can only get two fingers between the harness and your child.
If you are travelling with a baby, dress them in several thin layers for a car journey. Good Egg Car Safety advises using a ‘cosy toes’ pouch or, alternatively, a thin, folded blanket that is tucked in around your baby over the harness.