CLEVELAND — Temperatures are dropping and safety experts are making sure parents don't make mistakes when it comes to children and their car seats. The biggest one, according to Jennifer Walker, Manager at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital's Injury Prevention Center, is putting children in car seat with a puffy coat - it's downright dangerous.
“All the extra layers underneath the harness straps can cause a problem with the proper fit. No matter how snug you get it, in a crash that big puffy fabric is going to compress and leave a big gap between a child and a harness which is going to move too much in a crash,” said Walker.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bulk jackets make you think harness straps are tight, but in reality, they are too loose. The CDC recommends keeping your child in thin layers, making sure harness straps are buckled tight and putting coats or blankets over the buckled harness.
“For infants, they make covers almost like a shower cover," Walker added. "You don't want anything thick or bulky between the child and the harness.”
Also, harness straps should be at or above the shoulders, right at the armpit level.
“You want to have those harness straps nice and snug," Walker told us. "We call it 'the pinch test.' You shouldn't be able to pinch fabric.”
If you're traveling for the holiday, you'll want to make sure you bring your car seat with you.
“We don't recommend renting a car seat through car rental companies,” said Walker. “Since you don't know the history of that car seat, you don't know how well it's maintained or if it's been involved in a crash.”
Click here for more from UH Rainbow on car seat fitting stations in Northeast Ohio.
University Hospitals also offers a seat fitting station hotline number (216-844-2277) where parents can call to schedule a car seat fitting appointment and/or get questions answered by certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians.