Fort Worth, Texas,
17:10 PM

Bracing for Freezing Weather: Plan Ahead to Protect Your Family on the Road

At least six people died and dozens more were rushed to local hospitals after icy roads caused over a 100-car pileup in Fort Worth early Thursday morning. The mass casualty incident was one of several fatal car accidents across the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex on Thursday.

The National Weather Service previously warned of widespread freezing rain and sleet across North and Central Texas, which left roadways wet and slick.

Going into the weekend and early next week, temperature highs will range in the teens up into the 30s, and some areas are expected to see 2-7 inches of snow. If you don’t have a reason to leave home, please stay inside, stay safe and stay warm. If you have to go out, have a plan in place and rid yourself of any distractions so you can focus on the road.

Proper car seat use is one of the most critical ways parents can keep their young children safe when driving during inclement weather conditions.

“The injuries we see from car wrecks are because parents are making the same mistakes over and over with car seats,” explains Sharon Evans, trauma injury prevention coordinator at Cook Children’s.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents keep their children rear-facing as long as they fit within the height and weight requirements printed on their car seats. Evans says another prevalent issue is the lack of transitioning children into booster seats.

“Children should be in a booster seat until they’re 4-foot-9. We often see parents letting them go into a seat belt too early,” Evans explained.

She reminds parents to keep children calm and quiet when traveling, whether that means playing their favorite music, letting them bring a safe toy, or talking with them before leaving home. “Children can read your emotions,” she said. “If you’re uptight, they will be able to sense it.”

Here are more tips for parents to consider before getting behind the wheel:

  1. Leave enough time for your commute. Give yourself extra time to get your children to school and yourself to work, accounting for other drivers on the road.
  2. Don’t strap your children into their car seats with their heavy coats on. In a crash, padding from a coat or thick layers will flatten out, leaving room under the car seat harness. This increases the risk of a child slipping through the straps and being thrown from the car seat. Instead, dress your child in thin layers. Once buckled up, slip the coat on backward with the sleeves on the child’s arms. This way, the coat acts as a blanket and doesn’t affect the fit of the harness.
  3. Pack an emergency bag for your car. It’s a good idea to have blankets, warm clothing, hats, and gloves available in case you become stuck in winter weather. You’ll also want to have nonperishable snacks packed away.
  4. Avoid overpasses if possible. Plan out alternate routes to your destination and avoid high traffic areas when possible.
  5. Give yourself enough space from the car in front of you to gradually brake. When weather conditions are poor, give yourself double the time it normally takes to come to a complete stop.