RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Police and travel safety experts are reminding parents about the proper way to restrain children in car seats during the winter months.
Officials say puffy jackets and several layers can cause problems for your children when trying to get them in the car seat and potentially after they’re buckled up.
"These straps are about as tight as they're going to go now, and they look to be secure [against the jacket],” said Traffic Safety Community Educator for AAA Haley Glynn. “But what we don't see is how loose they actually are when we get that heavy coat off."
That’s why police and travel safety experts urge you to take your child’s jacket off before buckling them up.
“It’s worth taking the time to make sure the child is placed safely in the seat and the seat is properly fastened before you leave to go anywhere,” said Henrico Lt. Lauren Hummel.
“We want to make sure those straps are nice and tight against their chest,” Glynn said. “You can solve their coldness by using their puffy jacket backwards or by letting them use a nice favorite blanky.”
Thinner jackets, like a light sweatshirt, would work with a buckle, but nothing thicker.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 328 children under the age of five were saved by car seats in 2016. Hummel said officers are constantly looking to make sure children remain safe on the roadways.
“Anytime we make a traffic stop and there are children in the vehicle we are paying attention to what their ages may be,” Hummel said.
Child restraint devices are required for children until their 8th birthday. The safety seats must be properly installed and approved by the Department of Transportation standards. There’s no height or weight requirement associated with this law.
For rear-facing child restraint devices, they must be placed in the back seat of a vehicle.
In May 2018, Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill that requires a child to face the rear of the car until age two or until he/she reaches the minimum weight limits for a forward-facing car seat that is labeled by the manufacturer.
That law won’t go into effect until July 1.
For more information on child restraints, click here.