1/24/2014 - Heavy coats not conducive for seatbelts
With the cold weather season's arrival, no one wants to step a foot outside without bundling up, particularly children who are vulnerable to frigid temperatures. But once everyone piles into the car, it's time to shed that coat. Otherwise, riders' safety could be at risk.
Recently reported by NBC's "Today," wearing bulky winter coats while riding in a car can be a safety hazard - especially among children.
Benjamin Hoffman, medical director of the Tom Sargent Safety Center at Dorenbecher Children's Hospital, indicated that when a child is strapped into their seat, the belt should lie flat on their chest and lap.
"Anything between the child and the straps is compressible; it's like having space, which creates more risk that the child could thrust forward into the straps in the event of a crash," said Hoffman. "Car seats are designed to be tightly attached to the vehicle and the child attached tightly to the car seat. Anything that interferes with that increases injury."
He added that the general rule is that whatever kids would be wearing indoors is what they should be wearing just under where the belt sits.
This, of course, doesn't necessarily mean kids have to wait for the car to warm up to get comfortable. Hoffman added that for younger children, simply place a blanket around the straps, and for older ones, have them put the coat on backwards so that their arms are in the sleeves and the back of the coat is lying on their chest.
Failure to buckle up is one of the most common sources of injury for children involved in car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2011, approximately 33% of all auto insurance claims wherein a child died was due to their not wearing a seatbelt.