As the bitter cold continues, and snowy or icy roads make way for slippery driving and an increased risk of car accidents, staff members who work the Permanent Care Seat Fitting Station at La Porte Physician Network Pediatric Care in La Porte are giving tips for the safe use of car seats in the winter.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading and increasing cause of death for children ages 1 to 13, so the safe use of car seats is also increasingly important.

“Car seats and booster seats are for passengers too small to be safe with an adult seat belt, but it must be the right seat for the child’s age, height and weight,” said JoEllen England, practice manager for La Porte Physician Network Pediatric Care and a certified passenger safety technician. “To be effective, it must be properly installed and properly used for every trip.”

Don’t loosen the straps for winter
As temperatures drop, Hoosiers put on thick winter coats to stay warm outside. But some coats could leave the car seat straps too loose to be effective. Both children and adults are urged to remove puffy or bulky coats once reaching the car, instead of adjusting the straps to fit bulky clothes.

Once strapped in, children can use blankets or slide coats over their arms backwards to stay warm in the car.

Rear facing vs. forward facing
Children should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they reach a seat’s upper height or weight limit. This protects your child’s fragile head, neck and spine while it’s still developing. Many convertible and all-in-one car seats offer higher height and weight limits, allowing your child to remain rear-facing for longer.

Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready for a forward-facing car seat with harness.

To learn more about choosing the right car seat, including an easy-to-use car seat finder tool, please visit: More information about Indiana’s child passenger seat law is at