(KXAN) — With winter temperatures dropping rapidly, you may think it is time to bundle up. However, parents could be putting their children in danger by simply putting them in a nice warm coat.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said puffy coats should not be worn by children in a car seat. According to experts, the fluffy padding “flattens out from force.” In an accident, this means the child’s safety harness cannot properly protect them.
Meteorologist Rich Segal with News 2’s sister station, KXAN, spoke with Dahlia Rizk, founder and inventor of Buckle Me Baby Coats, about the danger of coats and car seats. Buckle Me Baby Coats are designed to be easier to remove once a child is in a car seat.
You can learn more about the risks of coats and car seats in the below interview. Rizk also has alternative outfits your child can wear to keep them warm this winter.
Segal: Today we’re going to be talking about puffer jackets with Dahlia Rizk. For those of us who are single and do not have children, would you please tell me and us what a puffer jacket is?
Rizk: A puffer jacket is that regular winter coat that you see everyone wearing. They’re big, they’re bulky, they keep you warm. But in the car seat, they can be really unsafe.
The NHTSA and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that parents take puffy coats off in the car seat, the puffiness of the coat and a crash will compress underneath the harness, creating about two to three inches of space.
Research has found that as little as six millimeters of extra for movement creates critical brain, neck, and spine injuries. It’s really important that parents don’t use regular coats in the car seat.
SEGAL: What is an acceptable car seat-approved jacket that parents should use for keeping their children warm when they are using car safety seats?
RIZK: Most coats are not acceptable in the car seat because most of them are going to compress and it might look like you have the harness tightened up. Like if you look at this doll here with the coat underneath the harness. This is what parents will usually do. And if they pinch the harness, it looks like it passes the pinch test. If they pull on the tail of the car seat, it looks like it’s as tight as it can possibly go. So they might think the child is in safely.
When I pull all that coat fabric out of the way how much space is actually here, I can fit a whole hand under here. All this space is showing you what would happen if it compresses and your child is not held into by this car seat now. Now they’re going to move all of this space in a crash.
You can use a blanket. You could use a light fleece jacket. Those are all really acceptable safe ways to keep your kids warm in the car seat during the winter as well.