NEW YORK — Parents looking to keep their child safe and warm this winter with a puffy coat may be putting them at risk without even knowing it.
One of the most common misuses of car seats is leaving straps too loose, and big winter coats are a potential cause, warns Consumer Reports.
Taking coats off children before putting them in car seats should be considered a "general rule," according to the nonprofit. This is because coats can become compressed during a crash.
"It is very important that the harness is tight enough that you can't pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger," according to Consumer Reports. "Extra slack in the harness can be very dangerous; it can lead to too much excursion or even ejection during a crash."
If you're looking to test the effectiveness of a harness while your child keeps his or her coat on, Consumer Reports advises that you:
- Fasten the child in the harness while he or she wears the coat
- Tighten the harness as you would normally
- Remove the child, take off the coat, then put the child back in the harness without adjusting the straps
- If you can now pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, the coat is too bulky and should not be worn under the harness
Parents not wanting to take these steps for every coat the child owns are advised to simply remove the coat.
To keep your child warm in this scenario, simply turn the coat around and put it on the harnessed child backwards, or drape it like a blanket, Consumer Reports states.