St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program warns of bulky jackets, snowsuits for kids in car seats
Friday, January 11, 2019 - 5:55 am

CANTON – The St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program is warning those with small children that winter jackets and snowsuits can interfere with the proper harness fit of children in a car seat.

Wearing bulky clothes or winter coats can prevent a snug fit of the harness, according to Traffic Safety Information Specialist Carrie Conger. “You may think your 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 too loose on the child.” Said car seat technician Carrie Conger. “It could possibly make the child slip through the straps and come out of the child restraint.”

As a general rule, winter coats should never be worn underneath a car seat harness. Most car seat technicians recommend not putting anything thicker than a sweatshirt on children while they are passengers in vehicle.

“You can do a quick test to see if the straps to your car seat are holding the child while their coat is on,” she said.

Here’s what to do:

• 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.

• 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 to big; use a blanket, or turn your child’s coat around and have them wear it backwards to still keep them warm while in the car. Failing to remove a child's winter coat before strapping them into their car seat could put them at serious risk of injury or even death.

If you are still uncertain about the safety of your child, contact Conger at the St. Lawrence County Traffic Safety Program at 315-386-2207 or [email protected].

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.