A dangerous mix: Winter coats and car seats

You may think it’s protecting your children, but it’s actually putting your child’s life in danger. Many parents don’t realize bundling their kids up in bulky coats can be harmful in a car seat or booster seat.

You may think straps are as tight as they can be, but in fact, they’re dangerously loose. Take a look at what can happen when your child is strapped in the car with their winter coat here.

“Once you put the child in a coat in the car seat and you strap them down, you think it’s tight, but really it’s not. Because, in a crash, the harness has to go through all of this squeezing to stop the child. In that squeezing, it’s going to take a period of time, whether it’s a split second or a number of seconds, in that time, when the child is actually moving forward, that child can move up and out of the car seat,” Erika Janes, with Safe Kids Louisville said.

She says to try it at home and see the difference for yourself. We took her advice. WHAS11’s Brooke Hasch used her 1-year-old twins, Harper and Logan in a demonstration. Logan was strapped in snug wearing only a sweater. That’s the way Janes says it should be (a fleece, or light jacket would also work). Then we strapped Harper in, with a larger, winter coat. We tightened the harness at her shoulders until we could no longer pinch any of the harness straps with our thumb and forefinger. The straps felt tight. But when we took her out of the seat, removed her coat and sat her back in, the straps were extremely loose. You could fit both your arms underneath the harness. In the event of a crash, the child would not be restrained properly.

While it may seem inconvenient to take the coat off before getting in the car, this is a must according to Janes – just the baby in the car seat.

It’s important to know, this applies to not only car seats, but boosters. If it is cold outside, it’s recommended you cover your kids with a blanket in the car, or place the coat on backward, over the harness.