Consumer Reports: Car seat safety in cold weather

You may have seen reports recently about the danger for children who wear puffy winter coats while buckled in their car seats. Consumer Reports says it is a serious concern, but there are easy ways to keep your child safe.

In cold weather, we bundle our children up to prepare them for the elements. But a bulky coat and a car seat can be a dangerous combination.

Consumer Reports' Emily Thomas says the harness might not be tight enough to secure your child in a crash.

With the help of five-month-old Ben, she demonstrates a quick way to check if your child's coat is too big and bulky to wear under the car-seat harness.

They first put Ben in his snowsuit and properly secured him into his car seat so there was no slack in the harness straps. Then they removed Ben's coat and put him back in the seat to see how loose the straps were.

"So really, the snowsuit added this extra room. In the event of a frontal crash, all this extra room means that there's so much space for Ben to be able to ride up and for his head to be outside the protection of his shell, which means he could have a head injury," Thomas said.

You can use the same test for bigger kids to see how much room their puffy coat puts between them and their harness.

"In addition to not wearing a coat, always make sure that your child is properly harnessed every time. You should not be able to pinch any fabric and their chest clip should always be at armpit level," Thomas said.

But how can you keep your child safe and warm in the car? For a baby, Consumer Reports recommends first securing her into her seat and then putting a blanket on top of the harness. for bigger kids, teach them this cool trick of wearing their coat over the harness for riding in the car.

Along with those tips, Consumer Reports suggests you periodically go to a car-seat checkup event to make sure your seat is properly installed.

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