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Winter warning: Coats & car seat safety

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Winter brings cold weather and potentially slick roads, but many families still need to travel every day. We bundle up our children to keep them warm, but as Consumer Reports explains, a bulky coat and a car seat can be a dangerous combination.

In winter, the extra bulk of a puffy winter coat can make the safety seat harness too loose to properly secure your child in a crash. It can be really annoying and kind of inconvenient to have to remove your child’s coat to put them into their car seat. But it’s really important for their safety in their car seat.

There’s an easy way to check if your child’s coat is too puffy or bulky. First, secure him in the car seat wearing his coat so there is no slack in the harness straps. Then remove the coat and put him back in the seat. If the straps are loose, there’s a problem.

Tighten car seat straps with a coat on first.

 

If you take the coat off and there is slack in the straps, there's a problem.

 

In a crash, if a child is wearing a coat, the coat would compress, all that puffiness would compress leaving extra room, which gives the child additional room to move and potentially move outside the safety of his car seat which would increase his risk of injury.

So how should your child stay safe and warm in the car? Consumer Reports recommends securing your child into the seat and then putting a blanket or coat on top of the harness. For older kids put their coat sleeves on backward after they are harnessed in. It can be challenging, but the sooner you start with these types of safety practices the sooner it becomes the norm.

Consumer Reports says that in addition to not having your child wearing a coat in the car, it’s important to always make sure that your child is properly harnessed. You should not be able to pinch any fabric, and their chest clip should always be at armpit level.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2019 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org.

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