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Heavy winter clothing could compromise car seat safety

Baby in winter clothing in car seat

Image source: Thinkstock

‘Tis the season for kids to bundle into vehicles wearing heavy coats and bulky clothing. But did you know those heavier clothes could affect a child’s safety in the car?

Keeping your child warm on the go is important, but so is keeping them safe. When traveling, be aware that wearing a winter coat in a car or booster seat can affect your child’s safety.

Thick coats can create too much space in between the body and the car seat harness, increasing the risk of being thrust forward into the straps or thrown out of the vehicle in the event of an accident.

Instead, here’s what you can do:

  • Avoid bulky clothes; wear layers
  • Place a blanket over the secured car seat (but not behind the child).
  • Have your child put his/her jacket on backwards over their arms after they have been strapped in.

If you are not sure whether your child’s clothing or coat is too bulky, Consumer Reports offers these steps you can take to check:

  1. While wearing the clothing or coat, have you child sit in their seat and fasten the straps.
  2. Tighten the straps until you can no longer pinch any of the straps together with you thumb and forefinger.
  3. Without loosening, remove your child from the seat.
  4. Now, take the coat off of your child and secure them in the seat a second time.
  5. Try to pinch the straps with your thumb and forefinger again. If you are able to, then the coat or clothing is too bulky.

In Texas, state laws require all children under 8 years old and less than 5’7″ to be in a child restraint – a car seat or booster seat – and the seat must be properly secured or restrained according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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