KUSA - With temperatures well below freezing, heavy winter jackets are a necessity to keep warm, but they can create dangers for young children in car seats.
"The risk of using a bulky jacket or a blanket under the harness is that it's going to actually introduce slack and that harness isn't going to be as snug as it should be on the child," said Britney Lombard, a Child Passenger Safety Technician.
While that might not sound like a very big deal, the extra space will allow your child to move around a lot more in the event of a crash.
"When you add in a coat, that adds in a little extra bulk which would compress with the force of a crash and it can cause anywhere from minor to serious injuries including even ejection out of the car seat," Lombard said.
She offered some tips to keep your child warm and safe without putting them in danger.
"One solution would be to just take the child's jacket off when you get to the car seat, buckle them in nice and snug and put the jacket on backwards on their arms over the top of the secured harness," she said. "You can also use a warm blanket instead of a jacket and just kind of tuck it around the edges so that it doesn't go under or behind the child."
Lombard also addressed other common mistakes made by parents when installing car seats. She says parents may select the wrong seat altogether, meaning it doesn't fit their car or child properly.
"There are definitely incompatibility issues," Lombard said. "Some seats are just wider front to back. Seats definitely vary in how much space they take and they fit differently depending on the slope of the seat, the size of the vehicle, and what position you're putting it in the car. You really want to fit it in your car before you buy a seat."
Lombard also warns parents about accessories commonly found on store shelves.
"Another thing that we see is parents using unapproved after market products, things that you find on the store shelves like head support pillows, vehicle protecting mats, padded harness covers things like that, Lombard said. "Those can alter the way that your seat installs and works. Really all you need is what comes in the box with your seat. You don't want to add a lot of gadgets to it."
For more resources or to find a Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area who can check to make sure your child's car seat is installed properly visit seatcheck.org or carseatsafetycolorado.com