Mother's plea to keep kids out of jackets in car safety seats

Lailah and Davin Flynn were unharmed in a car accident thanks to their mother's diligent car seat safety.
Lailah and Davin Flynn were unharmed in a car accident thanks to their mother's diligent car seat safety. Photo: Aoife Flynn

It's a carseat safety tip many parents don't know about, but it may just save your child's life.

A worried mother has taken to Facebook pleading with parents to remove infants and young children from large, bulky clothing before restraining them in a car seat. 

Irish woman Aoife Flynn, her husband Carl and their two children, aged three and one, were travelling outside of Dublin over Easter weekend.

An 18-year-old driver in an oncoming vehicle was speeding and lost control, crashing into the Flynn's family car. "It was the most frightening experience of my life," Flynn says. 

"The paramedics at the scene confirmed what I knew, the fact they were strapped in tight without bulky jackets saved them from serious injury or worse." 

The family was unharmed, but the experience heightened her awareness of other parents strapping their children in while wearing jackets.

"I see people taking their kids out of the car all the time in big, puffy jackets and it really upsets me," Flynn says.

More than 1000 people have responded to Flynn's post, many commenting that they weren't aware of the safety tip. 

"I've never had them in jackets in the car, but I only know that because someone mentioned it to me when I first had kids.

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"It is not widely known, you don't get told, but you should do."

Thick garments place the straps too far away from the body and they could fail to adequately secure children in an accident.
While Essential Baby couldn't find a clause about clothing in The National Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles, the issue is addressed by Rearfacing Downunder in its safety guide.
It states, "Do not dress the child in thick, bulky coats in their car seat, as this will make the harness straps too loose in the event of an crash. Place coats and blankets over the top of the harness straps for extra warmth."
Christine Erskine, executive officer of Kidsafe NSW says that in addition to restraint issues loose or puffy clothing poses, "...placing children in bulky clothing can expose them to heat stress."
"If you as an adult would find it hot and uncomfortable to ride in a heated car with with a thick coat on, your child will also be experiencing discomfort." she told Essential Baby.

Always dress them in clothing allows the harness to be tightened snugly against the body. When correctly installed and used, child car seats can reduce the risk of death by 70 per cent for infants up to 54 per cent for toddlers.

If in doubt, the easiest way for parents to ensure children are using car seats correctly is to visit a certified child restraint technician.

Also visit Kidsafe for Australian child car seat safety guidelines.

Stuff.co.nz with Essential Baby