Children in car seats with large stuffy coats

It’s been a cold winter with record low temperatures. But we Iowans are tough. Cold weather doesn’t keep us from living our lives. We just bundle the kids up and go.

Did you know that the thick coat or snowsuit that is keeping your child warm could also be risking her life?

Bulky coats mean the harness on your child’s car seat can’t tighten properly. The car seat may seem snug, but in a crash, the added bulk can compress, causing your child to fly out of the seat. Fortunately it’s easy to tell if your child’s coat is too bulky.

How to tell if your child’s coat is car-seat safe

  • Put the coat on the child.
  • Buckle the child in the car seat. Adjust the straps so they are snug, but not too tight.
  • Take your child out of the car seat. DO NOT LOOSEN THE HARNESS.
  • Take off her coat.
  • Buckle the child in the car seat again. Check the straps and see if you can pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. If you can, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness. If there is no extra slack, the jacket is safe.

A child who uses a booster seat is also in danger.

We all know that buckling your child in the car seat without a coat isn’t realistic when the temperature is in the single digits. However, parents have options.

  • Choose a coat that is car seat safe. Coats filled with down or PrimaLoft often compress enough that straps don’t have to be readjusted. Fleece is another good option.
  • When it is an option, you can preheat the car and wear long underwear. If the car is warm, a jacket isn’t necessary. Make sure you bring the jacket in case you are stranded or the car breaks down.
  • Have your child take off her coat while you buckle her in. Then have her put her coat on backwards. Her front will stay warm. You can also use blankets on top of the car seat for warmth.
  • Don’t use a car seat liner that is designed to keep kids warm. Many of these products compromise safety.

Do you have any tips for keeping a child warm and safe in the car seat? Connect with us on social!

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.