Indianapolis mother shares warning of not letting fashion get in the way of child safety

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 19, 2014) -- When driving around your children over the next few months, one mother says the key is to make sure fashion trends don't get in the way of safety.

The Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) is out with a message -- avoid putting those big, puffy coats on your children while they're in their child safety seat. Experts say the bigger the coat, the less effective those seats will be.

The thinking is that when your child is harnessed in, the bulk from the coats will give a false sense of security. Your child may not be in the seat as well as you may think. New Hoosier mothers, just learning of this warning, are taking precautions.

"I think as a new mom, you have so much to learn so quickly," said Andrea of Indianapolis.

One of the things that Andrea had to learn was how to dress her new bundle of joy Aiden.

"I was just saying I need to go out to the mall and get him a coat since it's become so snowy," she said.

Then, Andrea read on social media about warnings that the warmer, puffier coats could pose a danger to him when he's in his car seat.

"It was good timing because I kind of learned the lesson before we had made the mistake," Andrea said.

Experts say if you pinch the webbing on the child safety seat harness to see if it's tight enough, it appears that the webbing is tight enough. Aleatha Henderson, Director of Public Education for the Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD), says it's not really adding protection.

Henderson showed her what she's talking about.

"You can see all this slack, and with the big puffy coats, a lot of times it masks the fact that the harness may not be tight enough to really keep the child in to the seat," Henderson said.

If there's a crash, that could have a devastating impact.

"So you want to make sure that the harness is touching the child as tightly as possible. If you have a coat or blanket, you can put that around the child after they are secure in the seat," Henderson said.

Andrea says it's about protecting what she has, while helping others.

"Any time we can share information and support each other and keep our little ones safe, we want to do that," she said.

IFD can make an appointment with you to do a child safety seat inspection, and offer other safety tips. Just call their car seat hotline at (317)327-7956.