As winter approaches, the warmer clothes come out from the cupboards and we start to layer ourselves and children up to travel from place to place. The danger of this with car seats and safety belts is that the thickness and fluff factor stops the restraints from securely keeping a child safely in their belts should an accident occur or you have to suddenly stop. The clothing can compress in an accident and render the straps loose fitting allowing for a child to be ejected from their seat. The straps from a baby’s car seat or older child’s booster seat need to remain tight against a child’s chest to function properly. So what can you do to ensure a warm travel experience but no compromise to the safety of your child?
Dress your child in warm clothing, such as a long sleeved t’shirt, sweatshirt and long pants, a hat if it is extra chilly. Try and warm the car before placing your child in their seat. Buckle them into their restraint and then place a warm blanket over the top or for an older child you can put a jacket on backwards over their arms keeping them warm and snuggly. Nothing should be behind a babies back so no blankets under a child or under the belt restraints.
A Reminder about: Your Responsibilities as a driver (under the law) for Children’s Restraints.
As the driver, you must make sure that any child under 7 years of age is properly restrained by an approved child restraint that is appropriate for the age and size of the child. They must not travel in the car if you can’t put them in an approved child restraint. The vehicle’s safety belt on its own is not an approved child restraint.
Approved child restraints include:
• infant restraints for young babies (often called baby capsules)
• restraints for older babies, toddlers and pre school children (often called car seats)
• booster seats for preschool and school-aged children
• child safety harnesses (used with or without a booster seat) for preschool and school-aged children.
All approved child restraints will display standard markings to show they have been approved.
If the child is aged 7 years you must use an approved child restraint if one is available in the vehicle and if it is appropriate for the child’s age and size. Otherwise they must use a safety belt if one is available. If there are no child restraints or safety belts available, they must travel in the back seat.
Children aged 8 to 14 years must use a safety belt if one is available. Otherwise, they must travel in a back seat.
Note: A child under 15 years old may sit beside the driver only if the child is restrained by a child restraint or safety belt (whichever is appropriate for their age and size). However, they are always safer in a back seat than in the front.