MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) – You might wonder if bulky winter jackets can interfere with car seat safety. According to AAA, they can.

As temperatures get set to slightly drop this weekend, you will probably want to bundle yourself or your children up to combat the cold. Despite that, AAA East Central wants to remind people that bulky winter jackets can also pose a threat to their safety when worn underneath seat belts and/or car seats.

According to the group, car crashes are the number one killer of children up to 13 years old.

AAA urges parents to limit the layers of clothing or padding between children and their harnesses to protect them. The group added that a gap between a child and harness could cause a child to slip through restraints when a seat belt is fitted over a bulkier jacket

AAA explained that seat belts are best worn when they are close to the body and can be valuable in a crash to help protect those involved.

AAA East Central offers tips for safely buckling a child into their seat during the winter months:

  • Warm up the car ahead of time. Passengers won’t feel the cold as much if the car is heated, allowing them to wear seat belts comfortably without a jacket. 
  • Keep the seat inside ahead of time. Keeping the car seat inside the house will keep it warm, as well as making it easier to secure the child.
  • Wear a thin coat in the car. Fleece outerwear is recommended because it is thin enough to work well under seat belts, yet warm enough to keep children comfortable.  
  • Use a backward coat. Secure the child in the car seat without their coat on, and once the child is snugly strapped into the car seat, put their coat on them backwards or wrap them with a blanket. Never fit a seat belt over the blanket. Children can also wear a hat and or gloves to help keep warm. 

For more information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on car seat safety, click here.