Police warn parents: Kids wearing winter clothes under car seat straps could be at risk

A police department in Iowa is warning parents about the hidden danger of winter coats and car seats.

"If babies are wearing a thick winter coat and they get in a crash, everything is going to compress," warned Cedar Rapids Police Department Officer Shannon Sampson.

Sampson explained with the compression factored in, seat belts on a child wearing a bulky coat are looser than they should be. That looseness could cause extra damage or even allow the child to fly out of the seat in a crash.

Cedar Rapids police recommends buckling in kids, then putting blankets or their coat on top of them.

Safety blog The Car Seat Lady keeps a list of techniques for keeping kids warm in a way that won't compromise their safety, including double swaddling with blankets and putting a jacket on the kid backwards and on top of the seat belt.

Parents can test whether a coat is too bulky using the method below:

• Have your kid wear the coat, sit them in the car seat and fasten the harness.

• Tighten it until you cannot use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the webbing together.

• Next, take your child out of the car seat and remove the jacket while keeping the harness at the same tightness level.

• Place them back in the seat.

• If you can pinch together the webbing now, the jacket is too bulky.

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