It’s one of the most iconic scenes in one of the most iconic holiday movies. In “A Christmas Story,” Ralphie’s mom is bundling up his little brother, Randy, to go to school on a freezing, winter day. Though Randy is already wearing multiple layers, his mom is using all her strength to cram him into an enormous red wool snow suit. Once buttoned up, she tops it off with two hats and a scarf that leaves only a tiny crack for his eyes.
“I can’t put my arms down,” Randy screams while Ralphie comments that he looks like a tick about to pop.
I must have seen that movie a hundred times and I still laugh every time I see that scene. However, while it is hilarious, it raises an important safety issue when it comes to kids and winter clothing.
When those winter winds blow, it’s a natural parental instinct to bundle your kids up before heading out. And while that’s fine if you’re going for a walk or sledding, if you’re driving anywhere it’s important to keep in mind that puffy winter coats affect how your child is secured in their car seat.
The extra padding of a bulky coat makes it impossible to get the harness properly snug. Even though it might feel like the harness is snug, in a crash the extra material will compress, making the harness too loose to be effective. Loose harness straps on a car seat drastically increase the chance that your child could be injured in the event of a collision.
So, you’re probably thinking, what am I supposed to do? It’s winter in Wisconsin. The temperatures are hovering around the single digits and I don’t want my kid to freeze.
I understand the thought of having to go through this each time you get in and out of the car is daunting, especially as you’re trying to keep yourself warm as well. But it really is important, even if you’re just going for a quick jaunt around the neighborhood. Studies have shown that most crashes occur within 20 minutes or less from home and at relatively slow speeds. Motor vehicle crashes, wherever they occur, are the leading cause of death in children older than 1.
Before you drive away, make sure to follow these car seat safety guidelines:
If you have any concerns about your car or booster seat installation, call (414) 607-5280 to schedule a free appointment at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Booster and Car Seat Clinic or review these additional safety resources.