Reno instructor explains dangers of puffy jackets inside car seats

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 11:40 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - It’s cold outside and the chances are parents are layering their kids, but experts say to think twice before buckling children wearing thick coats in the car seats.

Child Passenger Safety Instructor at REMSA, Nellie Martinez said, bulky winter coats will cause the straps to be tight to the jacket, instead of safely tight to the child, which can cause unsafe gapping and a lack of security.

“The possibility of the child being hurt is higher,” she said.

The puffiness of the coat can compress in a crash and create a loose car seat harness. That’s why experts recommend taking the jacket off before putting the child in the car seat.

“In a crash, we want the child and the car seat to move together,” said Martinez while doing a demonstration with mannequins. “If this (strap) is loose, the child is the one that’s going to be moving forward first. I see this a lot. The child is the one that’s going to be receiving the impact then the car seat. So really important that this (harness) is nice and snug and the clip is right across the armpit level.”

If you find that the coat can’t be safely worn under the harness, there are a couple of things you can do:

1. For smaller children, put a blanket over them to keep them warm.

2. For a bigger child, after securing them in the car seat, turn the coat around and put it on backward.

3. Use a thinner jacket (not puffy). If it has a hoodie leave it on.

While there are coats online, claiming to be car seat safe, Martinez explained it is important to make sure it has been tested with the type of car seat you own.

“It’s worth taking the time to make sure the child is placed safely in the seat,” said Martinez.

Under a new law, children under two years of age must be retrained in a rear-facing car seat, in the backseat of a vehicle.

REMSA offers monthly inspection events and one-on-one consultations by appointment. For a child safety car seat inspection, contact: REMSA Health Education at (775) 353-0806 or register at

It is important that the harness is tight enough, to the point you can’t pinch the webbing between your fingers.