Why child car seats and coats don’t mix

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – As families hit the road this holiday season, safety experts are relaying an important message for parents about the child car seats and winter coats – they don’t mix.

As the temperature drops, coats get thicker and thicker. But those puffy winter coats and do more harm than good when it comes to strapping into a child car seat safely.

Stephanie Weigel, injury and safety prevention coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital, said children should never be strapped into a child car seat wearing a winter coat.

Weigel explained that the extra material in the coat creates too much space between the child and the car seat straps. In a crash, the puffy layers of the coat are squished together and that leaves too much space between the straps and the child.

“What we see every winter are children who are ejected or partially ejected from car seats,” Weigel said. “It only takes a few tiny inches of space between baby and those straps to make it possible for the baby to be ejected from the seat.”

Weigel said a good test is to strap a child into the seat with a coat on and pull the straps tight. Then, buckle the child in without the coat and observe how much room is left between the child and the strap. She said you shouldn’t have an outer layer that’s any thicker than a sweatshirt.

Parents who are worried about warmth can always put the coat back on backwards after the child is strapped in.

The guidelines only apply to car seats and not booster seats.