It can get extremely hot in summer and inside a car we all suffer in different ways: from the driver who burns his hands on the steering wheel to the child who is strapped into their child restraint system. A car's interior acts like an oven in the sun but there are several tips and techniques to keep it as cool as possible in summer, from the basics such as parking in the shade or in a garage to getting rid of the hot air before getting into the car.
In the case of children, the heat can have a very powerful effect on them. They are much more vulnerable than adults plus being tightly strapped in reduces their movements; when it gets really hot they can perspire a lot, so you need to take extra precautions when taking children in the car in summer. The perspiration itself is not a problem because this is the body's natural mechanism for cooling down, but when it becomes excessive it can lead to serious problems.
One of them is obvious: if the child is sweating a lot and these liquids are not being replenished, he/she can easily become dehydrated. Another is not so obvious: if the air-conditioning is on, the child's sweat-dampened clothes can become very cold and chill their body. There are several things you can do to alleviate the heat in the back seat as much as possible and travel in greater comfort, especially if your child is in a rear-facing seat.
Reduce the light as much as possible
The more light that falls on the child's body and child seat, the hotter he/she will get. Solutions include tinted glass, integrated blinds (the ones you can install yourself are not as safe in the event of an accident as they may break loose), or sun protection systems either for the seat itself (a protective cover) or the child once the car is underway. Whenever buying this kind of product, make sure it has official certification in your country.
Minimize the heat absorbed by the child seat
A light-colored child seat absorbs less heat than darker colored ones. Consequently, if at all possible choose a seat upholstered in light colors which may be more difficult to keep clean but provide additional comfort by not absorbing so much heat in summer.
Cool the car in advance
This might seem a very obvious solution but it is still something that needs to be pointed out. If you leave the car in the sun, it is a good idea to use every option available to cool the interior down before getting into it. This might include airing the interior by rapidly opening and closing one of the front doors while the window of the opposite door is half-open (a trick that really works if you do it properly), or turning on the air-conditioning to the max with the back windows very slightly open. Do whatever needs doing to get the temperature down before you put the child in the car.
Other useful tips
Plan your trip so you are traveling in the early morning or late afternoon as this helps to reduce the heat build-up in child seats and, indeed, children themselves. If you leave in the very early hours of the morning you will have a few hours of cool before the heat starts rising.
Make sure you have cool or chilled drinks in the back of the car and that your child drinks plenty of liquids, which is a simple way of keeping them cool. If the drinks are extremely cold at the start of the trip they will keep cool for longer. Don't forget that it is not good for children to drink exceptionally cold drinks.
Dress your child in cool, lightweight clothing and we also recommend you use sun protection cream to prevent any possible sunburn. And if all else fails, an adult sitting in the back can take responsibility for keeping children cool and making sure they drink fluids regularly.