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Warning: Why children shouldn’t wear winter coats in car seats

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Mike Timmermann

Many parents don’t think twice about strapping their child into a car seat with their winter coat on, but experts warn that it could be a deadly mistake.

Safety alert: Coats and car seats don’t mix

In an NBC News report, Sue Auriemma from the safety group Kids and Cars demonstrated how the straps can be dangerously loose when there’s a thick coat underneath the harness of the car seat.

Here’s the simple test NBC News conducted, which you can try as well:

  1. Buckle your child into the car seat with their winter coat on and tighten the harness to remove slack.
  2. Take your child out of the car and remove the jacket.
  3. Put your child back into the car seat without their winter coat on and notice how loose the straps are.

“It is very important that the harness is tight enough that you can’t pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger,” Consumer Reports said on its website, which warns about this issue.

As part of the NBC News report, a crash test conducted at a facility in Michigan showed how dangerous this mistake can really be. In a simulated 30-mph crash, a dummy wearing a winter coat went flying out of the car seat – the worst case scenario. But when the same test was conducted without a jacket, the dummy stayed in the seat.

Here are some safer options

We know that you don’t want your child to be cold in the car, so what should you do? Perhaps the easiest solution is to put their coat on them backwards after they’re secured in the car seat. Fleece jackets, which are less bulky than puffy coats, are another safer alternative. And experts say you can always cover them with a blanket.

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