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Why Winter Coats & Car Seats Don't Mix

December 27, 2013, 6:22 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Why Winter Coats & Car Seats Don't Mix

While it's good to keep your children warm during the winter, bulky winter coats and car seats don't mix.

Experts recommend removing the coat from your child before putting him or her in a car seat.

Kristen Thorkelson enjoys playing with her 21-month-old daughter Harper, but there's no playing around when it comes to putting her children in car seats.

"Because I would be lost without her for sure," Thorkelson said.

Thorkelson is getting a lesson in car seat safety from Sanford Certified Family Life Educator Molly Norling.

"The difference of the child being safe and not safe and injuries happening," Norling said.

Norling says first, you want to make sure there's no excess space between your child and his or her safety straps.  That's why you need to take off winter coats.

"When a child is wearing their bulky winter coat, it's providing extra space between the child's body and the safety straps, and we don't want any space," Norling said.

If you buy a car seat cover, you also want to make sure it doesn't go inside and underneath your child.

"That would be providing that extra space again, so we recommend using the car seat covers that just cover the outside or top of the coat," Norling said.

Also make sure the seat is tightly secured in the vehicle. There should be no more than one inch of movement.

"We also want children to remain rear-facing for as long as the seat allows. Children are safer rear-facing," Norling said.

And finally you want to make sure the harness is up around the armpit, at the chest level.

"A lot of times the straps aren't tight enough," Norling said.

All tips Thorkelson and her family plan to use while traveling this winter. That includes taking off the winter coats.

"You want your child to be warm, but at the same time, I'd rather have them be safe. Take that extra step and buy a coat and get the car seat cover that goes on top of the car seat," Thorkelson said.

You can get a lesson in car seat safety from an expert at Sanford CHILD Services.

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