Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Surviving Summer in the Car

I've spent the last 7 out of 8 summers with children in the backseat of my car.  Of those 7, 4 included a baby under the age of 1 year.  If anyone knows how miserable chasing around town in a stifling car with little ones is, it's me.  Have I mentioned I live in the southwestern US?  Where the inside of a car gets to be 130+ degrees in the afternoon?  Yeah.

Riding in a hot car is miserable for anyone, but it can be downright dangerous for an infant.  What's worse, for the AC to even reach the baby, it has to go past the front seats, over the rear-facing baby carseat, and around the sides to baby. I'm not typically a coddler.  I'm not terrified of my child having to be uncomfortable now and then.  But extreme heat is nothing to mess with.

I thought I'd share a few tips I've picked up over the past few years.

1. A little preparation goes a long way.  Write a list of everything you'll need to keep cool in the car.  Hang it on the door you use to exit the house, or laminate it and stick it in your purse/diaper bag.  Keep your summer outing supplies (hats, sunglasses, etc) in a basket that you carry to the car with you.  When you get home, gather everything back into the basket and bring inside to keep from being damaged by the heat.

2. Time outings for the coolest parts of the day.

3. Park in the shade with all windows cracked.

4. Dress everyone in loose, cotton clothing.

5. Apply chemical sunblock 30 minutes before you leave the house (not necessary to wait if using a barrier sunblock), and make sure everyone's wearing a hat and sunglasses (if they'll keep them on).  Margaret used to rip her sunglasses off as soon as they were on her face, but she soon learned it's a lot more pleasant to leave them on and not have to hide from the sun.

6. If your car doesn't have tinted windows, use window shade clings to keep sun off faces.  The cling shades don't pose a projectile risk in case of a crash, like suction cup roller shade designs can.

7. Bring a small insulated bag (We use one made for transporting baby bottles.  Try an insulated lunchbox, a small cooler, or an insulated grocery bag if you have more than one child.) to store the following "cooling off" items:

8. An ice pack for each child.  We use one like this that can cover a significant portion of a car seat.  When you get out of the car for errands or outings, put the ice pack in the carseat, making sure to cover the buckles.  Store in insulated bag between stops.  Do not let children ride on top of ice packs.

9. A folding reflective sunshade for each child.  Cover each ice-packed carseat with a shade to keep ice from melting, and to keep the seat even cooler.

10. A sippy cup filled with ice water for each child.  We've had good luck with these and these for avoiding leaks.  Store in insulated bag when away from car.

11. A bottle of water and a washcloth.  If the kids are hot prior to getting in the car (from running around at the park or somesuch), wipe their faces, hands, necks, and wrists down with a wetted washcloth.  A baby wipe will do in a pinch.  Keep bottle of water in insulated bag, or use an insulated water bottle.

I'd love to hear about ways you manage to beat the car heat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the ice tip. I need to get one of those multipacks. My tip is to make your husband park in the driveway so your car is nice and cool when you get in. :P