Auto Tech

Don't get lazy, take off your child's winter coat before strapping them into a car seat

The extra belt slack to accommodate thicker coats will make injury more likely.

After securing your child in the seat, pinch the belt near his or her collarbone. If there's any slack, the belt isn't tight enough.

Many folks are content to just strap Junior into his car seat without removing his winter coat. After all, it's cold outside, you're cold, he's cold and the car's not exactly toasty, either. However, in the desire to scrape seconds off your morning routine, you could be putting your child in additional danger if there's ever a collision.

The issue relates to the space between the child and the seat's restraints. Big winter coats require the belt to give up some slack and create additional space between the young'un and the belt. In a collision, when everything comes to a grinding halt, instead of slowing your child down, he or she could wind up slamming into the slackened belt, causing injury.

The Today Show suggests a pretty straightforward solution -- the pinch method. When your child is strapped into the seat, pinch the belt near his or her collarbone. If there's any belt built up in that pinch, it's not tight enough. If that means taking off Junior's coat, so be it. You can always wrap the whole seat in a blanket to keep him toasty while the car heats up. This goes for slightly older children in booster seats, too.

Sure, it's a little more work, but there's something to be said about doing more than the bare minimum when it comes to child safety. Until self-driving cars alleviate our concerns about getting into accidents, it's a wise idea to be as well prepared as possible.