Earlier this month, it was reported that a group of friends passed away while on vacation as they had decided to take a break by sleeping in their parked car at a petrol station.
We hate to be the ones breaking it to you, but no, taking a nap in your idling car isn’t an option even if you’re feeling tired from hours of driving. If you have the habit of doing so, it is time you kick the old habit or you might find yourself not waking up from your “nap” at all.
As much as it seems like the perfect environment to have a shut-eye in, people die from sleeping in their cars with the engine; here’s why and how it happens.
1) How does it kill?
The main cause of deaths due to falling asleep in cars is carbon monoxide poisoning.
With it being colorless and odorless, the chemical is usually released when burning fuels such as coal, wood, charcoal, natural gas and fuel oil.
It is extremely harmful to humans when accumulated in enclosed areas, such as an idling vehicle that has all its windows closed.
It kills all those who inhales it by binding to body’s red blood cells and displacing oxygen; the victims are usually suffocated and dies due to an insufficient amount of oxygen supply.
2) How to identify symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
According to the Ministry of Health, early warnings and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning includes:
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
3) Does that mean we might die if we sit for too long in an idling car during a traffic jam?
The possibility is there, but it will take time. Carbon monoxide takes time to build up inside a driver’s cabin to affect the human system and getting stuck in traffic involves a moving car, almost once every few minutes.
Try to avoid sitting in a standstill though as it will expose you to high levels of carbon monoxide, especially for
- Poepl with breathing and heart problems
- People with anaemia
- People susceptible to seizures
4) How to stop carbon monoxide from happening?
Your best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to prevent it from ever arising in the first place.
- Regularly inspect your car exhaust system from leaks as it can allow carbon monoxide to enter your vehicle
- Don’t leave minor fixes go unfixed as any damages or holes in your vehicle may allow that much more fumes to enter
- No, even leaving your windows down does not help, never leave your engine running in an enclosed area
- Invest in a carbon monoxide detector as a safety precaution
In conclusion, do not sleep in your car with the engine running, ever.