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Are Coats and Covers Safe to Use in Car Seats?

Monday, February 17, 2014

This winter has been a cold one here in Washington, DC, as well as in many areas around the country. While we’re counting down the days to spring in my house, there are still several more weeks of winter weather, which makes it challenging when loading the kids up in the early morning for daycare.

I’ve noticed some friends with warm covers and inserts for their children’s car seats, which seem to keep them cozy and snug – something that’s appealing as the temperatures dip below freezing.

But I didn’t know about their safety, so we asked our colleagues at Safe Kids Worldwide.

Are Car Seat Covers Safe?
The short answer is no. Car seat manufacturers advise parents not to use any product in the car seat if it isn’t made by the manufacturer, says Lorrie Walker, Safe Kids Worldwide training manager and technical advisor for child passenger safety.

“There are a lot of aftermarket products that don’t meet flammability standards,” says Walker.

Can My Child Wear a Coat in the Car Seat?
Walker says it is very difficult to secure your child if he is wearing a winter coat or lots of layers. “You can’t get a good fit in the harness with a puffy jacket. You’re restraining the jacket and not the child.”

She recommends draping your child’s coat over the car seat, after you have buckled him in securely.

How Can I Tell if the Car Seat is Secured Properly in the Winter?
Walker suggests a simple exercise to test your child’s car seat:

  • Put your child’s jacket on and then put him in the car seat, buckling and tightening the harness.
  • Then unbuckle the harness without loosening it, and remove your child from the car seat without adjusting the harness.
  • Take your child’s coat off and put him back in the car seat and buckle him in.
If the harness is loose without the coat on, your child is not being restrained properly. While this process takes a few minutes, it’s an easy way to check.

How Can I Keep My Child Safe In the Car During Winter?
If possible, parents should warm up the car before putting your child in during the extremely cold winter. They can also drape coats and blankets over their children AFTER tightly securing their car seats.

Finally, parents should keep a few items on hand, in case they get stuck for long periods of time, which happened in Atlanta last month.

Walker recommends the following items for your cold-weather emergency kit:
  • Diapers
  • Snacks
  • Water 
  • Warm clothes
  • Blankets

More Car Seat Safety Resources:

Categories: Infants
Topics: Safety
Authors: Emily Dammeyer


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