The dangers of winter coats and car seats

- The temperatures are dropping and the warm winter coats are making their way out of the back of the closet. The coats are a necessity for kids during car trips, but they can also post a danger if your child is in a car seat.

As a general rule, winter coats should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat. A bulky coat under a child seat harness will compress in a sudden stop or crash, which can result in your child's harness becoming too loose.

Here's a few easy steps to see if your child's winter coat is "safe" or okay to wear in their car seat:

  • Put the coat on your child, sit them in the child seat and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the harness webbing with your thumb and forefinger.
  • Without loosening the harness, remove your child from the child seat.
  • Take their coat off, and put your child back in their child seat. Buckle them in their harness. Do not make any changes to the harness.
  • Now, see if you can pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. If you can pinch the straps together, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness.

If you find that the coat can not be safely worn under the harness, you can do these couple things to keep your child safe and warm in their child seat:

  • Once your child is buckled up without their coat on, have them wear it backwards over their harness.
  • Keep blankets in your vehicle to cover them and keep them warm.
  • Try to find a coat that can pass the pinch test, something thin but warm (fleece is a great alternative).

Common car seat errors with thick winter coats:

  • The harness is too loose
  • The harness isn't buckled correctly
  • The harness sliding off child's shoulders
  • The chest clip is not at armpit level

For more information, please visit www.childrensDMC.org/KIPP.


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