Winter Coats Pose Hidden Danger in Car Seats

Parents may unknowingly be taking a risk every time they buckle their baby or toddler into a car seat wearing a winter coat. In this demonstration video shown on NBC’s Today Show, a child wearing a thick winter coat becomes a projectile object in the car during a collision. Meant to keep children warm during colder winter months, coats actually become a hidden danger inside a car seat, as buckles are loosened to stretch around the child, creating a barrier against actually protecting the child in the event of a car accident. 

"Car seat manufacturers and child safety advocates caution that winter coats, snowsuits and any inserts you buy separately from the car seat are not safe in the car seat," explains Utica Park Clinic pediatrician Dr. Charity Pollak. "Anything in the original box with the car seat has been tested with that particular car seat and is considered safe, otherwise avoid placing anything unnecessary between the car seat and your child or between your child and the car seat straps."

To make sure the car seat harness is tightly buckled, parents can do the pinch test by placing the chest clip level with the child’s armpit and trying to pinch the top of the harness by their shoulder. If any slack can be pinched, it is too loose. Parents need to tighten the harness to ensure they are not able to pinch any of the strap at the child’s shoulder.

According to Safe Kids, 73 percent of car seats are not installed or used properly. Preventable injuries are the number one killer of children in the U.S., they say. Bringing to light the importance of having your child properly restrained while riding in the car, as today’s news report has shown, will hopefully alert more parents to check their child’s car seat to help keep their child safe. For more information on tips to ensure a car seat is installed and used properly, please click here.