Healthier Me: "Strap Before You Wrap" to Keep Your Kids Safe - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Healthier Me: "Strap Before You Wrap" to Keep Your Kids Safe

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Coats and car seats can create a dangerous situation. Car seat experts are warning parents that bulky winter coats can put their kids at risk.

Advocates say a common mistake parents make in cold weather is strapping their kids into car seats cocooned in winter gear.  Instead -- they say parents should strap before they wrap.

That puffy little coat might actually seem beneficial in a crash situation, but the reality is winter coats and snowsuits create the last thing you want in a seat harness: space.

A car seat needs to be firmly strapped to the car, and the child is meant to be firmly strapped into the seat.  

Sanford Health Child Safety Advocate April Rabideaux says, "since winter coats are made of compressible materials, in a crash the force of the strap against the coat flattens the padding." She adds, "this creates space between the child and the harness and increases the risk of a child being thrown out."

It is a safety issue in case of a crash, but parents should also think about the comfort of their child. It is easy for a child to overheat in a warm jacket, tightly buckled in... after the car warms up. Parents are advised to take their child's coat off and use a car seat cover or a blanket to keep them warm in the car. 

Consumer Reports recommends following these steps to test if a winter coat is too big to fit a car seat:

1. Strap the child in their winter coat into the harness and tighten straps until there is no slack. Use the pinch test to see if the child is properly strapped in. You shouldn't be able to pinch the harness away from the child near their collarbone.

2. Take the child out of the car seat without loosening the straps.

3. Strap the child back into the seat without the coat. Use the pinch test again to see how much space has been created. If the harness is slack enough to pinch its too loose to be effective in a crash.


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