I'm in Manitoba. In winter here, it's not uncommon for us to get -40*C/F cold snaps that easily last a week or two -- and that's not factoring in the wind chill, which can easily reach -50*C/-58*F or colder. And after a few days of temps like that and being stuck indoors, one and their kids tends to get a stir crazy and *has* to get out. I'm sure you know how it is.
I feel like I need to put this kind of cold into perspective b/c in similar threads I've noticed a lot of the people who reply are in climates that experience WAY milder winter temps -- ie, your "cold" is what we go out in sweaters/fleeces and *maybe* a toque and mitts, if the wind's up. Even after letting the car warm up for 20+ minutes (we do not have a garage so our car is parked outside in these temps and I won't even start on how expensive and wasteful letting the car idle for that long is), at such extreme cold temps, the car interior is not warm at all and the car seats are, obviously, nowhere near warm. Also, in that kind of cold, it takes less than one minute for frostbite to set in. So we really are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do we bundle up our kids to lessen the frostbite risk and exposure to extreme cold and therefore increase the risk of ejection in a crash? Or do we under dress the kids, put them in very cold car seats to lessen the chance of ejection in a crash but at the same time, they're more exposed and vulnerable to the extreme cold, which can have serious consequences also.
So, for trips around town (where it usually takes 5 minutes or less to get to our destination), I have to choose the lesser of 2 evils. I keep the kids bundled up.
: I can't risk exposing them to that cold. I get their straps as tight as I can (they have down filled coats so they do compress quite a bit) and, most importantly, I drive defensively to lessen my chances of being in a crash. I keep a fair distance between myself and the car in front of me. I drive for the conditions . . . if that means doing 25km/hr in a 50, so be it. I am aware of vehicles near me and I approach all intersections w/caution, even light controlled ones. I realize I'm taking a risk by having my kids still in their jackets and snowpants so I try to minimize that risk by driving defensively. But I still can't help but feel like a terrible mother for doing so b/c I know I'm going to hear it about how I'm totally endangering them by keeping them bundled up.
Either way, I'm endangering them. It's a lose/lose situation for us.
For out of town trips and trips around town when it's not as cold (say -20*C/-4*F
), we put them in fleece-lined jackets, their toques and mitts and cover them w/their fleece tie blankets.