Are you putting your child at
By having your child wear a regular coat or snowsuit in the car, you could be putting him/her at risk for injury! Winter coats are dangerous in the car seat because they have too much bulk and trapped air between your child and the car seat straps. If the straps aren't snug, then the child could be injured or even ejected from the car seat in a crash! (See more below!)
Which do you want for you and your child?
Bulky coat keeps straps from
Open chest allows straps to fit snugly.
Car Seat Safety Technicians recommend a test to check the safety of your winter gear (Pictures below):
This coat is another example of one that has a lot of bulk so it isn't possible to get it snug enough to pass the test. You can see how there is room to put a whole hand under the straps even after several attempts to tighten them!
Here are some tips and explanations from Car-Safety.org and the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Check out their websites for much more info!
Car Seat and Car Seat Straps: Making them tight enough to be safe.
Grab your carseat at the base, where the seatbelt goes. The base should
not move more than an inch (1") side-to-side or front-to-back. Some
movement at the top of the seat is normal, though a tether
will reduce this movement in forward-facing carseats.
How tight should my harness straps be?
Harness straps should be snug with no slack, but not so tight as to be uncomfortable. The top straps should be on the shoulders, and some prefer to say that you should not be able to take a pinch or get more than a finger in between the shoulder and the strap. The lower straps in a 5-point harness should be fairly tight across the thighs (not on the tummy). A tight harness can prevent ejection, and also can increase the ride-down time to reduce the chance of crash injury.
Does it matter if my harness straps are all twisted?
Yes. The more the straps twist, the less area of strap is available to restrain the child in a crash. This means more pressure will be applied to the child, and could result in burns or more serious injury. It is a good idea to untwist the straps after each use. Some models have straps that do not twist.
Where should the chest clip (harness retainer tie) be on my child?
It should be across the chest, at armpit level. It should not be on the neck or tummy. This clip itself does not protect during a crash. Its job is to keep the harness straps in the correct position before a crash.
Traveling Safely with Children: The Basics http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/newtips/pages/Tip1.htm
Traveling safely with Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/newtips/pages/Tip2.htm
Is the Child Safety Seat Secure in the Vehicle?: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/newtips/pages/Tip4.htm
Important Safety Reminders: Using the Car Seat Coat alone does not keep your child safe, you still need to follow the instructions that came with your child safety seat and vehicle owner's manual. The instructions may seem severe (nothing bulky between your child and the straps, the seat shouldn't move an inch, straps across the shoulders and hips), but they are recommended to prevent serious injury or death. Please take steps to make sure you are buckling your child correctly and that the seat is properly installed. If you have questions regarding your car seat, you can contact your area SAFE Kids organization, hospital Car Seat Safety Tech, car seat manufacturer, or the forums on Car-Safety.org.
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