WAUSAU, Wis. – Puffy coats may appear to be the perfect amount of insulation to keep your child warm in the coldest of Midwest winters, but did you know they can pose as a safety hazard for your little ones in car seats?
The extra padding might feel snug to the child when they’re tightly buckled in, but the extra material will compress in a crash and loosen the harness. According to Safe Kids Wisconsin, a puffy coat adds four inches of slack to car seat harness straps, which greatly increases the risk of injury to your child.
“The trick is to find the perfect balance between keeping little ones warm and safe in their car seats,” says Amanda Tabin, Safe Kids & Injury Prevention Coordinator at Aspirus Health. “Consider dressing them in thin layers, hats, mittens, socks or boots, and using the coat or a blanket over the straps of the car seat.”
Try this simple coat check, with steps provided by Safe Kids Wisconsin, to ensure your car seat is secure and there is nothing bulky between the child and the straps:
Step 1: Put the coat on your child.
Step 2: Sit them in the car seat. Buckle and tighten the harness.
Step 3: Without loosening the harness, unbuckle it, and remove your child from the car seat.
Step 4: Take the coat off.
Step 5: Strap your child back into the car seat without adjusting the straps. If the harness is too loose, the coat is too thick to wear under the harness.
For more information about keeping your child safe in the car, visit www.aspirus.org/passenger-safety.