Consumer Reports

How to Safely Secure Children in a Car Seat With Winter Coats

In winter, the extra bulk of a puffy winter coat can make the safety seat harness too loose to properly secure a child in a crash

Winter brings cold weather and potentially slick roads, but many families still need to travel every day. They bundle up their 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 a child in a crash. It can be annoying and inconvenient to have to remove a child's coat to put them into their car seat. But it's really important for their safety in the car seat.

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

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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 their car seat which would increase their risk of injury.

So how should a child stay safe and warm in the car? Consumer Reports recommends securing a child into the seat and then putting a blanket or coat on top of the harness. For older kids, put their coat sleeves on backwards 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 a child wearing a coat in the car, it's important to always make sure that a child is properly harnessed. A parent should not be able to pinch any fabric, and the child's chest clip should always be at armpit level.

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