The snowstorm that blanketed the East Coast last week points to wintertime problems that can affect people coast to coast.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur if a snowplow or shoveling by a person to free a parking place results in snow or ide covering the tailpipe of a running vehicle. Keyless ignition systems are another concern, KidsAndCars.org points out.
They enable drivers to start their vehicles with the push of a button. Some drivers let vehicles warm up in the winter in enclosed garages, creating a carbon monoxide poisoning hazard. Hybrid vehicles often make no noise when stopped causing some people to forget they are running.
When a car engine is left running, it emits carbon monoxide — a colorless, odorless gas — that is particularly deadly in an attached, enclosed garage. Those fumes then get into the home, endangering people.
It’s not an insignificant problem. The National Center for Health Statistics notes that on average about 150 people die each year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from motor vehicle exhaust.
KidsAndCars.org has documented 104 adult fatalities and 36 fatalities of children age 14 and under caused by carbon monoxide poisoning involving vehicles. Of those, 19 have been caused by keyless ignition vehicles in which drivers have forgotten to turn off the engine in an enclosed garage.
KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit child safety organization founded in 1996, offers the following safety tips for drivers:
▪ Before starting a vehicle, always clear its tailpipe in snowy weather. A tailpipe clogged with ice, snow or other winter weather debris can cause carbon monoxide to get into the passenger compartment of the vehicle, creating a hazard to occupants.
▪ Do not put children or adults in a vehicle with the engine running while clearing snow or ice from the vehicle.
▪ Never leave a child alone in a vehicle even for a minute.
▪ Never warm up a vehicle in any enclosed space.
▪ Never leave a vehicle running in the garage even with the garage door open.
▪ Always keep vehicles locked at all times and keep the keys and remote openers out of the reach of children.
▪ Keyless ignition vehicles should always be double-checked to make sure the engine has been turned off. Keyless vehicles could continue running even if the driver takes the key with him.
▪ People should ensure that in-home carbon monoxide detectors are working especially in sleeping areas. Batteries should be checked twice a year and replaced every six to 10 years.
▪ Be careful not to let distractions and multi-tasking prevent turning off vehicles.
▪ Do not let children play behind any vehicle when the engine is running. Drivers are unable to see them, and they are exposed to exhaust fumes, which can be deadly.