Car seat safety: heavy winter coats and car seats do not mix

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CLEVELAND -  Keeping your children warm and safe. It's a top priority for parents, especially during the Cleveland winter months.

But there is a warning to parents about those bulky winter coats and child car seats. The combination can pose serious dangers.

First-time parents Nina and Brad Strigle of Brunswick are preparing to bring home their healthy baby boy.

Carter came into the world on Saturday, weighing in at a whopping nine pounds, twelve ounces.

Nina says, "It was a really good pregnancy, enjoyed every moment of it. Um, very anxious at the end and Carter was born on his due date, very exciting."

"We just need to make sure everything's set up properly in here and he's latched in properly when we leave the hospital," said new dad Brad.

Safety is one of the many top priorities for the young family, so when they bundled up little Carter at Fairview Hospital preparing to bring him home, they were shocked to learn the way  they were preparing him was a no-no.

"In an accident, all this material's going to compress, and there's going to be this much movement," said new mom Nina.

Jessica Timms, a certified car seat technician, says winter coats should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat because in the event of an accident, it could pose a serious threat.

Timms says, "The straps aren't fitting right so it may look like you get a nice tight fit, in an accident, all that material is gonna compress and the baby's gonna jar around so we're gonna have spinal and neck injuries, hip injuries."

If parents are concerned about their children being warm in his or her car seat, experts say you can turn the coat around and put it on backwards with the arms through the holes and over the harness.

Or, you can lay an actual blanket over the child.

The Strigle family is now headed home with baby Carter inside his car seat the correct way.

Nina says, “If I didn't know that, as a new mother, reading online or knowing here at Fairview, you would just feel uneasy in the car ride home."

A good test: with your thumb and index finger, pinch the harness near the child's collar-bone. If there is no excess strap, then you know the child is snug enough.

Experts say bottom line, nothing should come between a child and the car seat straps.