AAA: Bulky winter coats can interfere with car seat safety

(WSIL) -- Puffy jackets can keep children warm this winter, but they also pose a threat to their safety when worn underneath the car seat harness. 

Given that car crashes are the number one killer of children, AAA advises parents to limit the layers of padding or clothing between a child and their harnesses.

When a seat belt is fitted over a puffy jacket, the jacket can compress in a crash and create a gap between the harness and the child. That gap is like a loose belt and can cause the child to slip through the restraint – or worse, they can even be ejected.

AAA offers tips for safely buckling a child into their seat during the winter months:

  • Warm up the car before your trip. Passengers won’t feel the cold as much when the car is heated, allowing them to wear seat belts comfortably without a jacket.  
  • Keep the seat inside. Keeping the car seat inside the house will keep it warm, as well as making it easier to secure the child. 
  • Wear a thin coat in the car. Fleece outer wear is recommended because it is thin enough to work well under seat belts, yet warm enough to keep your child comfortable. 
  • Use a backward coat. Secure the child in the car seat without their coat on, and once the child is snugly strapped into the car seat, put their coat on them backwards or wrap them with a blanket. Never fit a seat belt over the blanket. Children can also wear a hat and/or gloves to help keep warm.