Car seat coat mistake could endanger children, says St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program
Friday, November 8, 2019 - 9:28 am

CANTON -- It’s getting colder and colder each day, making it time to break out the heavy winter jackets and snow suits, said a press release from the St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program.

While the coats and snow suits will keep children warm, it can also interfere with the proper harness fit of the child in their car seat. The St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program would like to help parents understand the dangers of a coat under a child safety seat harness straps.

Wearing bulky clothes or winter coats can prevent a snug fit of the harness, the press release said. You may think a child is secured in properly when in fact the harness is not tight enough.

“During a crash all the material of the bulky winter coat will compress making the harness straps loose on the child. Thus, possibly making the child slip through the straps and come out of the child restraint,” said Carrie Conger St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety.

As a general rule, winter coats should never be worn underneath a car seat harness. Most car seat technicians would recommend not putting anything thicker than a sweatshirt on your child. You can do a quick test to see if the straps to the car seat are holding the child in a coat:

Step 1: Put the coat on the child. With the coat on, put them in the car seat, and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the webbing with your thumb and forefinger.

Step 2: Without loosening the harness at all, unhook it and remove the child from the car seat. Take the coat off, put the child back in the car seat, and buckle the harness straps, which should be adjusted just as they were when the child was wearing the coat.

If you can pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger now, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness. In the case the coat is too big, use a blanket or turn the child’s coat around and have them wear it backwards to still keep them warm while in the car. Failing to remove the child's winter coat before strapping them into their car seat could put them at serious risk of injury or even death.

Those who might still be uncertain about the safety of the child may contact Conger at 315-386-2207 or [email protected] for more information about child passenger safety or to schedule a car seat check.

St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with a grant from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.