Winter Coats Make Car Seats Dangerous

Bulky winter coats and car seats can be a dangerous combination for children. If a car seat harness isn’t tightened properly because of the coat’s padding that creates extra space between the harness and the child, you could be jeopardizing your child’s safety. Further, “puffy” coats also tend to be slippery. Thus, if there is an accident, the extra fabric compresses, loosening the harness on your child who may, subsequently, be ejected.

Here are some safety tips to ensure that you are not putting your child at unnecessary risk.

Bulky coats decrease car seat safety

Generally, winter coats shouldn’t be worn with a car seat harness because the harness may be too loose to protect your kids in case of an accident. To check to see if the harness is, in fact, too loose, follow these steps:

Secure your child in his/her seat with the coat on and tighten the harness until secure. Secure means you cannot pinch the harness webbing between your fingers.

Remove your child from the seat.

Remove the coat, and put the child back into the seat without adjusting the harness.

If the harness does not fit snugly, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the car seat harness.

Take a look at this video from the Today Show demonstrating the dangers of a bulky winter coat underneath a car seat. During this segment, Miriam Manary from the University of Michigan’s crash test lab reinforced that parents should ensure that the car seat harness is secure against the child’s chest and that none of the webbing can be pinched together once the puffy coat is removed.

Tips to keep your child warm in the car

Consumer Reports offers these tips. If the coat cannot be worn safely under the harness, there are other options:

Place a blanket over smaller children to keep them warm.

If you use after-market fitted blankets or covers for infant seats, ensure they are approved by the manufacturer for your specific car seat otherwise the manufacturer will void the warranty.

For larger children, after you securely fasten them in the car seat, take their coat and put it on them backwards during the drive.

Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends dressing children in thin layers, beginning with close-fitting ones like leggings, tights, long underwear, or bodysuits. Then add pants and tops, and even a thin fleece jacket or sweater. Infants should wear one additional layer than older children and adults to keep them warm. Also, don’t forget hats, gloves, mittens, and booties which all help keep children warm without interfering with car seat safety.

When traveling in your vehicle during the winter, the heater will warm the car. Thus, by dressing your child in layers appropriate for the weather, placing him/her safely and securely in his/her car seat, and then using coats or blankets to keep the child warm, once the car heats up, these layers can be removed so the child doesn’t overheat.

Concerns for rural areas

Tanja Fransen from the National Weather Service in Glasgow, Montana, says that dressing them in thinner layers and using blankets to keep children warm in the car is terrible advice. She stresses that if you will be driving on rural roads, taking your child’s coat off exposes them to hypothermia if there is an accident and the adult(s) are unconscious. Whereas there are more people—and oftentimes quicker help—in rural areas it may take much longer—even hours—for help to arrive, especially if nobody witnessed the accident and called for help.

If a car rolls, blankets placed atop your child aren’t going to be much help keeping your child warm. Fransen’s recommendation for those in rural areas is to place your child in a non-puffy coat so s/he can be strapped securely in his/her car seat and kept warm in case of an accident where help doesn’t arrive immediately.

Our kids’ safety is of the utmost importance. If your child has been injured due to a faulty car seat, please contact Venus Poe today at 864.963.0310 or fill out an online case evaluation form. We have offices in Greenville and Fountain Inn, South Carolina to better serve you. Knowing your rights is imperative to ensure you are fully compensated for your injuries and other losses. Also, there is no obligation or charge for our initial consultation to see if we can assist you with your case.

The information you obtain in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should not read this article to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken to you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice in the jurisdiction in which you may have a case.