Blog/ Parent-hood

The Silent Killer: Carbon Monoxide


Just days before the death of Shain Gandee (MTV Buckwild Show) my boyfriend told me that leaving the car on while just sitting there for a long period could kill you. I knew many people attempted suicide by leaving the car on in an enclosed areas, but never thought that by simply just driving around or even just siting in you’re car in an open area could also cause harm and even death.

Shain, his uncle, David Gandee and friend, Donald Meyers were found dead in his bronco. An autopsy report concluded that all three died from accidental carbon monoxide positioning. Today’s vehicles produce a lot less carbon monoxide fumes and emissions than vehicles from forty years ago. “However, as the number of cars in use increases, the pollution level from carbon monoxide fumes will also increase, and so manufacturers will need to look at designing systems that are even more efficient than those in use today… (silent show: silent killer).

The only way you can die from carbon monoxide in an open area is if the exhaust is not clear or you have an exhaust leak. In Shain’s incident they had the car on with mud stuck in the exhaust which causes gas backup. In laymen terms it’s like putting a cork in a pipe. The gas can’t exit so it has to find its way out which means it will go back into the car. Also keep in mind that during the colder months your vehicle gives off more carbon monoxide emission since more fuel is needed to start-up the car.

Now how do you know if your exhaust isn’t clear? Loud noises are a good hint or seeing and/or smelling smoke. If it’s a snowy day snow can clog the exhaust up or from plowing going on snow can could easily get into the pipe. Or like Shaine when his car got stuck in the mud the mud was all in the exhaust.


Carbon Monoxide poisoning can be mistaken for flu symptoms which is scary so one needs to also look into when the symptoms occur, do they get worse shortly after turning on a fuel-burning device (e.g., generator, vehicle, tool)? More than one person in the home becomes sick at the same time (it usually takes several days for the flu to pass from person to person). And most importantly symptoms are brought on by being in a certain place (car, home, etc) and go away soon after leaving the area. It’s also crucial to get your car regularly inspected at least yearly especially during the winter months.

All in all, don’t ever leave your car on in an enclosed area that’s number one. This even applies when you sit in your car in your garage with the garage door open– carbon monoxide still stays in and will linger and can get into the home. Don’t leave your car on for an extended period while you’re in the open either because sometimes you just don’t get any signs when your exhaust isn’t clear. Lastly, to protect your home make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in every floor of your home.

Remember, carbon monoxide is called the silent killer because it’s odorless, colorless, tasteless and non-irritating so don’t wait until it’s too late.


Read my other post regarding your smoke alarm– “Your Smoke Alarm May Not Save You”

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