Saturday, June 30, 2012

Keeping Your Cool

A ton of people have been posting on the mommy forums and whatnot recently about how to keep babies cool in the car. This is a huge problem, especially now that babies are supposed to stay rear-facing until at least 2 years old, because that means that the AC in the car hits the back of their car seats and not them for at least 2 summers of their itty bitty lives. Last summer I did an internet search for ideas, and found an article on the American Academy of Pediatrics website that stated that "if you are comfortable in your car, your baby probably is too." (I can't for the life of me find the link, but I'll keep looking.) Clearly the people who wrote this article live in North Dakota. Here in Texas, where summers are so hot that it would be cooler to hang out in hell than to ride in the car, the typical recommendations to turn on your AC first and tint your windows just don't cut it. Then you add to that the fact that our daughter has a decreased ability to control her own body temperature as a nifty little side effect of her tumor, and we have a serious problem on our hands. So my handsome husband and I put our heads together, and came up with this 3 part cooling system that we thought we'd share. You are welcome to use any of the ideas we have, but if you choose to re-create any of our original projects (or the ones from my friend Shanna) please don't sell them for a profit.

First, my husband got to work on an air circulation system that would keep Munchkin cooler while she is actually sitting in the car.

First we purchased this clip on fan and tried to use it as a solution:

This fan would probably be a great solution for a stroller, but in the Texas heat it didn't work for a car seat, because the extreme heat inside the car drained the batteries in about a day and a half. We even tried to use rechargeables, but the battery compartment of this fan requires for you to use a teeny tiny screw driver to open it and access the batteries to switch them out, which meant that I typically was standing there holding my sweaty baby in a parking lot trying to unscrew the flippin thing for like 10 minutes... a royal pain.

So we went back to the drawing board.

Husband stole nicely asked if he could use my small night stand fan and turned it into a car fan. Now, I am fully aware of the current recommendations about projectiles in vehicles. If we were to get in an accident the fan creation could possibly become a projectile and hurt our baby (or us for that matter.) We have considered this risk, and decided to take our chances, especially since the way the installation of the fan works in our vehicle makes the angles at which it could hit our daughter very limited, and our daughter's neurosurgeon told us that we absolutely had to figure out something to keep her from overheating and dehydrating from sweat. So before you go all judgey-wudgey on me, know that we have made this calculated decision for ourselves only, and you are free to do the same if you so choose. =)

Husband sawed off a piece of PVC pipe and used a strong epoxy glue to stick it to the bottom of the fan. Then he filled the pipe with rocks (to make it bottom heavy) and glued on a PVC cap.

Then we purchased a cigarette lighter power converter which allows us to plug the fan in, and whenever we turn the car on, we can plug the whole shebang into the cigarette lighter and the fan starts blowing.

We pulled down the center console next to our daughter's car seat and popped the whole thing into the cup holder, and then point it right at her. Beautiful. Good work, husband!

Next, I got to work on creating a system for keeping the car seat cooler while we left it parked in the sun (the fan can't run when the car isn't on.) My friend Shanna and I had been talking about how we were particularly concerned about the buckles being burning hot, so we both were thinking about solutions for this problem, and she came up with an awesome sewing project. She wrote her own blog post about it, and then I followed (some of) her directions. Not all of them, because I'm a lazy seamstress and refused to use bias tape... I also refused to make measurements of any kind and just went for it. I'm a free spirited crafter.  =) As it turns out, mine works just fine!

I soak it for a few minutes in the evenings to re-hydrate it, then I stick it in the fridge over night. I grab it each morning before we head out the door, and whenever we park the car, I take out baby girl and toss in the cooling pad, making sure to cover the buckles. No more burning hot buckles, and it helps keep munchkin's back a bit cooler (albeit somewhat damp, but not with sweat, so that's a win in my book!) Shanna says this in her blog, but I will reiterate, this pad is not intended for use while the child is buckled into the seat. Love it!

The third and final piece to our system is a simple spring loaded sunshade. Get the kind that comes with 2 separate pieces, and pop one of them over the top of your carseat (with the cooling pad underneath). This way, the entire seat is shaded while you leave it parked.

Voila! Our car is still hot, but my baby isn't over heating or sweating so much anymore, and I'm a happy mamma. Does anyone have any other car seat cooling suggestions? I'd love to hear them!

Happy Summer!