Don’t buckle kids into car seats with bulky coats on, AAA Texas warns as cold weather approaches

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — With frigid air from the Arctic on its way to Central Texas that will cause temperatures to nosedive, AAA Texas wants to remind folks about keeping their children safe in the car.

The agency points out that while bulky, puffy coats keep kids warm in cold weather outdoors, they shouldn’t be worn while buckled into car seats.

The coats can compress during a crash and create what the agency calls a protection gap between the seat belts and the child. That could cause the child to slip through the buckles, or even worse, the child could be ejected completely.

“Harness straps should lay flat and snug against the body, and not have any twists or padding,” said Kara Thorp with AAA Texas. “Parents should buckle their kids in cars without jackets first, and then cover them with something like a blanket.”

Thorp said the seat belt should be snug enough that you can’t pinch any of the strap material at the child’s shoulder.

The agency offers other tips to help keep children safe in cars during the upcoming cold snap:

  • Keep the car seat inside your house so it stays warms
  • Warm up the car before the trip
  • If you need to wear a jacket, make sure it’s fleece or another thin material
  • Put a coat backward over your child after they’re buckled in

Battery issues with your car can also pop up in cold weather. Since more power is needed to start a car in cold weather, it is crucial you make sure you have a good battery, the agency says. If your battery is more than three years old, consider having it tested or getting it replaced.

Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re not stranded due to a dead battery in cold weather:

  • Park your car in a garage if you can. It keeps the battery out of the weather.
  • Turn off your lights, wipers and heater before you shut the engine off to avoid battery drain
  • Unplug things like phone chargers and USB cables as soon as you turn off the engine
  • Don’t use the heater for longer than you need to
  • Clean corrosion off battery terminals
  • If you don’t use your car often in cold weather, consider getting a battery tender
  • Every 6-12 hours, turn your car on and let it idle for 15-20 minutes to allow the battery to recharge

The agency also recommends folks keep a heavy blanket in the trunk during winter travel in case you are stranded and can’t use your car’s heater.

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