Question Bulky coat, wouldn't that increase ride-down time?

B

bignis

Guest
It's recommended (http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=29772) that children shouldn't be buckled into rear-facing car seats wearing bulky winter coats. I found an explanation of why loose car seats are worse for the child because they increase ride-down time (http://www.car-safety.org/rearface.html#ridedown). I assume the same explanation applies to bulky coats too, but it doesn't make intuitive sense to me, so I'm hoping to get some clarity.

If my child is buckled into a rear-facing seat, the seat itself is tight, the child is wearing a bulky coat, and the child is buckled in as tight-as-possible given their bulky coat - wouldn't the extra padding of the coat be a "good thing"? My thinking is that in a crash, the child would be flung forward, be slowed down by their coat as it compresses (a good thing, right?), then be ultimately stopped by the buckled harness. Extra padding in the coat acts like an airbag effect. This would lead to the ride-down time increasing, less force acting on the child overall, and less injury to the child compared to no coat at all.

The thinking doesn't jive with the recommendation though. The explanation of the "hand catching an egg" (http://www.car-safety.org/rearface.html#ridedown) seems opposite of what I'd expect. Could someone explain to me why a bulky coat (buckled tightly) is worse Physics/Forces than no coat at all?
 
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jjordan

Moderator
One potential problem with a child moving more is that he/she moves to the point of striking a very hard part of the vehicle's interior. So - in that case, you essentially have "too much" ride-down time.

And with a bulky coat, the effect is essentially a loosening of the straps, which might mean that the child slides out of the harness altogether.
 

joolsplus3

Admin - CPS Technician
"much like what happens to the internal organs of a person when they are flung into a loose seatbelt or harness" (from the first link), and from Wendy's video, we can see that the harness is in fact loose on the coated child.

The coat is not an energy absorbing material (if it were, we'd all have helmets made of polar fleece and nylon), the body will be flung just as hard into the harness as if the coat weren't there at all. That is, there's risk of various neck/head/spine injuries when the body slams up and into the harness and possibly over the shell of the seat, if they ramp up enough and create enough extra momentum to stretch the harness even further than it would have been.

What I would do, if it's honestly too cold to de-coat a kid, is find a highly compressible one, like this blog shows.. http://carseatblog.com/24645/baby-its-cold-outside-winter-coat-suggestions-for-kids-in-carseats/

Good question, though!
 

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