Why Bulky Coats and Carseats Don’t Mix

For those of us who dwell in the Midwest, we know that January usually ushers in that Arctic blast of winter. And while traveling with little ones is a necessity, maintaining their safety is always a priority. Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable death and injury among children, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. With bulky winter coats in the mix, an ill-fitting seat harness can cause tragic consequences with car seats.

What’s the problem?
Bulky winter coats loosen the harnesses of the car seat, increasing the chances of ejection during a crash.

How do I know if my child’s coat is causing an issue?
A simple test can be done, based on the fact that a properly fitted car seat will result in the inability to pinch excess material on the harness straps. So do this:

  1. Place your child in the seat with their winter coat on.
  2. Adjust the straps so that you are unable to pinch the strap.
  3. Remove the child from the car seat.
  4. Remove the coat from the child.
  5. Place the child back in the car seat without the coat and strap them in.

If you are now able to pinch the harness strap, the coat is too bulky and should not be used with the seat.

So how do I protect my child from the elements?
A couple of options are available here:

  • For infants in a rear facing seat, there are really nice covers for car seats that keep the babies as snug as a bug in a rug.
  • For older toddlers and children, blankets are always an option.
  • Additionally, you may use their winter coat by securing the child in the car seat, then putting their coat on them backwards, with their arms through the arm holes.

Keep them safe and warm during this winter, and hope spring comes soon!

Diane Simon

Diane Simon, RN, CEN, is the Trauma Coordinator/Registrar for ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital.