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Experts: Car seats and bulky jackets don't mix

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - When it comes to winter, parents reach for hats, gloves and warm jackets to keep the kids bundled up. But those warm coats don't mix when it comes to putting little ones in car seats.

Paula Pater with Safe Kids Chippewa Valley says bulky winter coats can pose a serious threat when worn under the straps of car seats and even booster seats, by creating too much space in between your child's body and the harness itself.

“I put her in snow pants, boots, a jacket, a hood thing to cover her face and her hat,” Eau Claire mom Danielle Komro said.

For Komro, keeping her little daughter Olivia warm this time of year is an important but lengthy process.

“It usually takes like a good 20 minutes at least to get her in everything,” Komro said.

Putting on all those layers takes time, and when it comes to getting Olivia in her car seat, all of those layers usually stay on.

“Blankets help but it's nice to keep her coat on because if you take them out of the car and then walk to the store they are bundled,” Komro said.

“I see it all the time, parents putting kids in bulky coats in their car seats in the winter,” Paula Pater with Safe Kids Chippewa Valley said.

Pater says when the snow starts falling she sees lots of parents mixing warm coats and car seats and it’s not a good idea.

“When the child is wearing a snow suit or a big bulky coat, what happens is you have to loosen up the harness to fit over the bulkiness of the coat or the snowsuit. In a crash that material will compress and the harness won’t be as tight to the child as it needs to be,” Pater explained.

Pater says you want to make sure you take the extra minute or two to take off the warm winter coat, and instead put kids in a light jacket or put a blanket over the harness instead.

For first time dad Ryan Sander, that's what he does each and every time he puts his bundle of joy Kennedy in her car seat.

“Now that it’s colder we have kind of a warm fleecy blanket as well as a blanket wrap that we put over the car seat and it has a little hole for her head and that's how she stays warm,” Sander explained.

Safe Kids Chippewa valley says while the winter coat should stay off while kids are strapped in the car seat, it is important to keep warm coats and blankets in the car just in case you become stuck in the snow.

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