Massachusetts roads can be tricky to navigate in the winter. These winter driving tips, from General Motors car safety expert Julie Kleinert and Safe Kids Worldwide President and CEO Kate Carr, are great for all parents, but particularly for those with infants or toddlers in their vehicles:
• Don’t dress a young child in heavy winter clothes for car trips. A bulky coat or snowsuit can compress in a crash, creating a loose car-seat harness and putting your child at greater risk of injury. Remove this kind of outerwear before putting your child in a car seat, or dress your child in a lightweight fleece or hoodie instead. Place a blanket or the removed coat over your secured child for additional warmth.
• Use the “pinch test” to make sure a car-seat harness is adjusted correctly. First make sure the harness straps are adjusted to the correct height – at or just below the child’s shoulders for a rear-facing car seat, and at or just above the child’s shoulders for a forward-facing car seat. Buckle and tighten the harness straps, and place the chest clip at armpit level. Now pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you’re unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
• Check your tailpipe. Before you get in your car, make sure your tailpipe is not blocked with snow. A simple check can ensure that you won’t have problems with carbon monoxide, a deadly odorless gas, seeping into your car.
• Prepare for Mother Nature. Keep an emergency bag in your car with necessities like baby food or formula, water, diapers, extra blankets and a spare set of warm clothes. You never know when you might get stuck in the cold and snow.
• Watch out for sleds. Kids love sledding and they’ll do it anywhere, often sliding right out into the street. Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Turn on your headlights earlier in the day if your car doesn’t have daytime running lights.
• Buckle up. Everyone is safer in a crash when they’re wearing a seat belt. Buckle up your kids – and yourself!