Not wearing winter coats in car seats could save kids' lives

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Warmth might be one of the top concerns for a child during the winter. However, wearing a jacket while in a car seat could be dangerous.

Jennifer Westendorf, the program coordinator for Safe Kids, recommends children to not wear a jacket while buckled in a car seat.

She demonstrated to KMVT how it works. Westendorf buckled a stuffed doll with a puffy jacket on and tightened the straps of the car seat.

"You would think that this would be safe. It’s nice and tight, you can go on your way," she continued. "But, if you take your child out, take them out of their coat and buckle them back in, just how you had them before, you can see how much slack there is in this belt and this is where the danger comes in."

With the puffy jacket on or a big coat, Westendorf said it may seem the child is strapped in correctly, but if a car accident were to happen, the coat can absorb the force of the crash and allow the straps to slide.

"Avoid the risk all together and just simply take the coat off and put them in, dress them warmly, long sleeves," she said. "Usually going from the house to the car or vice versa, or whatever you’re doing, is not going to be that cold for the child if you have to take your coat off with the door open."

Alternatives for children wearing their coat is bringing a blanket and covering them, or even drape the jacket over them, on top of the safety belts.

Westendorf said crash test videos are done at 35 miles per hour, showing children being ejected from their seat.

"Think about being on I-84, or Highway 93, doing higher rates of speed. There’s just no chance," she said.

Starting in January, Safe Kids will be at three different locations every Wednesday across the Magic Valley to check car seats and answer questions.

For dates, locations and times, check out the flyer on the right hand side.

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