Consumer Reports: Winter coat and car seat safety

Consumer Reports: Winter coat and car seat safety
Consumer Reports

Seeing kids in heavy coats is common during the winter months, but those coats can pose an unexpected danger when the child is bucked in a car seat.

Consumer Reports’ child passenger safety experts said that the extra bulk of a winter coat can make the safety seat harness too loose to properly secure children in the event of a crash.

“Even when you think the straps are tight, all the air that’s contained in a winter coat will compress in a crash, meaning that the harness may actually be too loose,” Consumer Reports’ Jennifer Stockburger said. “A loose harness may allow the child to ride up or come outside the protection of the car seat shell, putting them at higher risk of injury.”

Check if the child’s coat is too puffy by first securing him or her into the car seat wearing a coat so there is no slack in the harness straps. Then remove the coat and put the child back in the seat and see if the straps are loose.

Instead of wearing a coat in their seat, 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 backwards after they are harnessed in.

Consumer Reports also suggests periodically attending a car seat checkup event to make sure seats are properly installed.