The consequences of traveling in a child seat wearing an overcoat
This is a subject that has even been covered in the media, including Today (NBC) and the Daily Mail. The problem is that a winter overcoat can give us a false idea of how to adjust the child’s harness correctly.
We know that a harness is correctly adjusted when we can only get two fingers between the child’s body and the harness. But with an overcoat on, the gap is wider even if you do the same exercise.
The volume of the coat makes the harness too slack and we mistakenly think that it is correctly adjusted. This means that the child seat cannot perform its function correctly and protect the child in the event of an accident.
This is evident in this video which has already had a high number of views. It shows a mother putting her daughter, who is wearing a coat, into the child seat and adjusting the harness. She then takes the coat off and repositions the child in the car seat. It is then that we realize the huge amount of slack generated.
Winter overcoats are particularly thick and therefore do not usually fit snugly to the body. Furthermore, if the coat is made from a potentially slippery material, there is an increased chance of the child not being secured properly in the child seat.
It could be argued that wearing an overcoat is especially dangerous in head-on collisions, when there is a greater chance of the child being thrown out of the seat by the impact. It is at this point that the seat belts are activated.
When all is said and done, however much we want to see our children wrapped up against the cold, we need to take the time to remove their overcoats and seat them correctly into their child restraint system. One option is to put a coat over them, but it is best that they don’t wear anything that could interfere with the correct operation of the child seat. The car’s own air-conditioning system can be used to establish a comfortable temperature in the car.
You can also see the difference between traveling with or without an overcoat in the crash test shown in the report by NBC’s Today Show: