As days get shorter and nights longer it’s a sure sign winter is on its way. For parents it means storing their children’s summer clothes and bringing out winter coats and snow suits.
What many parents do not know, however, is that if children wear a thick coat in a car seat, it could compromise their safety. Chevrolet is therefore advising parents to add child car seats to their car’s winter health check when preparing for the cold weather.
According to the UK Department of Transport, up to 80 per cent of car seats are used incorrectly, with car seat tension the single biggest failing. Thick coats change the way a child fits into the seat as straps do not fit the child – increasing the chance of the child being ejected from the seat.
While all coats and clothing will compress in a crash, thick snowsuits compress enough to create a slack in the harness, allowing the child to slip out of the car seat during abrupt braking. The is why the car seat harness needs to stay close to the child's body at all times.
The best way to ensure your children’s safety in winter is to make sure they wear a thin fleece jacket and to warm the interior of the vehicle ahead of your journey. Once your child is buckled in the sea, put their jacket over their arms back to front – keeping them warm without compromising safety.
Check to see if your child’s winter coat poses a risk
To check if your child’s winter coat or snowsuit is safe in a child car seat, take five minutes to see how thick the coat is and how it could compress while on a journey.
Remove the child car seat and take it into your house
Get your child dressed up for a winter car journey with jackets and/or snowsuit
Sit your child in the seat, buckle up and adjust the straps to fit your child
Take the child out of the car seat without loosening the straps
Remove the jacket from your child and place them back in the seat
Do not tighten the straps. Can you fit two or more fingers under the harness at the child's shoulder bone? If yes, the coat is not safe for use with the car seat
Prepare your car for winter
Winter tires are a very important part of car. This is what is in contact with the tarmac or potentially snow or ice. You can recognize the winter tires by the snow flake logo on the tire. It is a much softer compound than a normal tire and has much more trade in it. It grips the ice a lot better and gives a much better traction and breaking.
Additional parts to be checked are the battery, lights and windshield wipers. The battery can be checked at a dealer. Lights and wipers are two key elements to guarantee good visibility. In addition, antifreeze needs to be added to windshield washer fluid.
What to keep in the car
It is wise to always have an ice-scraper and a broom to clear the car of ice or snow. For a journey in the mountain, it is recommended to have snow chains in case of heavy snow to give the grip and traction needed in these conditions.
In case people get stuck because of a traffic jam, they will appreciate having a blanket, warm clothes, food and drink, especially if they travel with kids. Gloves and flat winter shoes and gloves will be helpful if, for example, snow chains have to be put on.
In case of snow and frost
To have a good visibility, it is important to scrape the ice of the windshield and to free up also the lights, mirrors and all the windows of the car. Snow should be removed from the car, including the roof. Indeed, if the car brakes heavily, snow may come down and cover the windscreen.
In case of heavy snow, it is wise to equip the car with snow chains. Chains have to be installed on the front wheels if the car is FWD and on the rear wheels if the car is RWD.