As temperatures start to dip we bundle our children up to prepare them for the elements, but even with good intentions, a bulky coat and a car seat is a dangerous combination.
We all want to keep our children warm while traveling in the car, but there are ways to safely transport children in the cold weather while still keeping them warm.
As a general rule, winter coats should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat. A bulky coat under a child seat harness can result in the harness being too loose to be effective in a crash. Here is a simple way to check if your child's coat is too big and bulky to wear under their harness:
- Put the coat on your child, sit them in the child seat and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the harness webbing with your thumb and forefinger.
- Without loosening the harness, remove your child from the child seat.
- Take the coat off, and put your child back in the child seat and buckle the harness straps, which are still adjusted as they were when he was wearing the coat.
- If you can now pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness.
See our complete car seat buying guide and test-based ratings.
If you find that the coat can not be safely worn under the harness, here are a couple things you can do to keep your child safe and warm in his/her child seat:
- After securing your child in his/her child seat, turn the coat around and put it on backward with their arms through the arm holes and the back of the coat acting like a blanket
- Lay a blanket over your child to keep him/her warm.
One of the most common misuse conditions seen in child seats is that the harness is too loose and wearing a big winter coat under the harness is just one of the potential causes.
It is very important that the harness is tight enough that you can't pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. Extra slack in the harness can be very dangerous; it can lead to too much excursion or even ejection during a crash.
These tips should help keep your precious little ones safe and warm this winter.
Guide to safe winter driving.
—Michelle Tsai Podlaha
More from Consumer Reports:
The 10 most reliable cars under $25,000
5 best used cars for teen drivers
Best cars for comfort
Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Copyright © 2006-2014 Consumers Union of U.S.