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Old 31st October 2006, 01:15   #1
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Question Why do people get stuck inside a car and die?

Yesterday's papers had a report on how 3 people got stuck inside their Santro and died amidst incessant rains. There is even a thread (Does leakage of AC-gas lead to death? (2nd time 3 dead in Santro(Carbon Monoxide))) on this now. And yet this looks like a recurring theme now over the past few months. It happened during the last rains in Mumbai, a few months back there was another such case where a few people got stuck in side there santro as the doors won't open...

All these make me wonder, why? Or rather how? I mean, CO is not some nerve gas that you inhale and go phutt! There could be so many recourses...
  • the moment you feel uneasy and breathing problem open the door and come outside.
  • if the doors are jammed (all of them?!) try the hatch (in a hatchback). Normally this is not connected to the central locking and is manually operated from inside.
  • roll down the windows at least.
  • if you are in a hatchback climb into the hatch and take out the jack. A very potent weapon. Just hit the windshield with all your might... you are home and dry (pun unintended).
  • use your cell to call someone or send SMS alert to all and sundry. Someone will respond.
  • and if everything else fails, you are inside the car baba... and the car is running as well. Just drive it to the nearest garage and yell. Someone will find a way to get you out.
Really, I fail to understand what could be the circumstances that forces people to sit inside, trapped and die a slow death! Any ideas?
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Old 31st October 2006, 01:31   #2
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Zappo...I remember a old thread on this where Rtech had mentioned that CO is an odorless gas. All of the victims would have stopped and kept the A/C on thinking that they would wait for sometime till the rains stop. The effect of CO is that you start feeling sleepy and than die in your sleep. Considering all this, the occupants don't even know that they are getting poisoned, so all the points that you mentioned are irrelevant.
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Old 31st October 2006, 01:37   #3
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Gr8Guzzler... it is true that CO is odorless. But it is not just smell that warns you. When the oxygen level reduces to an alarming proportion and the CO level goes up you will start feeling dizzy to start with. Even the limbs feel weak. And then you start feeling the onset of sleep... or rather slipping into coma. If you can not understand these signs then welll....

As I said, you just do not just go hunched on the seat all of a sudden... particularly with multiple people someone is bound to complain of feeling strange, dizzy and all... and then sooner than later someone else will corroborate. Uhuh... mate, I think you gotta read the signs.

P.S. : Wanted to add this... most of us keep the car ACs in recirculate mode. This can be fatal when you are stationary for a long while with the AC running and all windows rolled up. It is imperative that one changes the AC knob to the fresh air mode.

Last edited by Zappo : 31st October 2006 at 01:43.
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Old 31st October 2006, 01:40   #4
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Yeah.They shud have definitely died in their sleep.
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Old 31st October 2006, 01:44   #5
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Agreed...but most people would interpret it as tiredness...Also very few people will have the knowledge or presence of mind to understand such behaviour. If they already knew the risks, would they have got themselves into such a situation???
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Old 31st October 2006, 01:48   #6
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Yes, there you do have a point. Nonetheless those pointers I posted on possible ways to get out of a sticky situation is for those who realize the onset of danger and then fail to get out because the doors get jammed... and all. For them there are ways beyond just fighting with the jammed central locking.
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Old 31st October 2006, 09:59   #7
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Carbon Monoxide is colorless, odorless poisonous gas. It reacts with hemoglobin in blood which reduces oxygen carrying capacity. Which makes people dizzy.
For starters all these peoples may not have presence of mind and doing anything like breaking window when feeling dizzy is easy to say than to actually do it.
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Old 31st October 2006, 10:37   #8
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Also remember that this incident happened late in the night. The occupants would have just thought that they are getting sleepy.
So, next time you want to sleep in your car, open the windows a inch or two.
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Old 31st October 2006, 13:10   #9
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Default Even before one gets trapped

There are lot of precuations that can be taken. One of the drivers manuals in USA used to say "Roll down the windows ones in a while".

One reason is to get out of the hypnotic effect highways typically have (wind noise and zoom). I think the suggested intervals were twice an hour. It also helps get a little bit of fresh air frequently. Probably can help have presence of mind and make one less dizzy.

Turn the A/C to fresh air mode (as some one else already suggested).

Some cars can open in to boot when rear seats are folded (possible in petra). Hopefully the remote boot open works and you can get out from that side or atleast get some fresh air.

I was just thinking, will it be easier to remove windshield or rear screen if we cut the rubber used to fix glass to metal frame ??
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Old 31st October 2006, 13:41   #10
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I would think that keeping a/c in fresh air mode is the reason for the poisoning in the first place (due to the a/c sucking in CO from the car exhaust) ? I might be wrong though.
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Old 31st October 2006, 19:56   #11
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Agree with supremebaleno.Keepin the A/c in fresh mode would lead to sucking in CO from outside and fresh air mode would lead to recirculating the air present inside
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Old 31st October 2006, 23:18   #12
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Default Fresh air mode causing CO/ CO2, not sure

This article tells me otherwise. Recirculatemode is the one that causes CO2 level.

http://rb-k.bosch.de/en/start/specials/ccs/ccs.html

It says CO2 is the one that causes drowsiness.
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Old 1st November 2006, 00:38   #13
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Yes, as I said above, most people keep the AC in recirculate mode. And that is the culprit here. Recirculate mode keeps using the air inside (by recirculating the stale air) again and again. In the closed confines of a stationary car with multiple people breathing this is a definite recipe for disaster as the oxygen keeps getting lower and lower. On the other hand the Fresh Air mode sucks in the fresh air from outside thus rejuvenating the oxygen level inside.

So why do we keep the AC in recirculate mode? Firstly, it is better to be set so when you are passing through a dusty neighborhood (most of India, basically). Also, many say that fresh air mode causes a little more strain to your AC (linked to FE) and hence the fixation.

And no... fresh air mode will not suck in any harmful gases from the engine bay... unless of course you have a big time khatara with leaky plumbing, spewing gases from everywhere Basically, there are no "gases" as such coming out in your engine bay in the first place.
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Old 1st November 2006, 06:48   #14
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Post Time to come out with an emergency switch

While the latest technology brings convenience, comfort and ease of use, it also has inherent disadvantages, like when the electrical system fails, there is no way of getting out of the car.

Automobile researchers should come out with an emergency switch, which should be mechanical (and not depending on electrical systems) and unlock and open all the doors.

Similarly, an external battery operated electronic device, which may detect poisonous gas and trigger an alarm may also be a good choice.

There could be more such thoughts and as there are more such incidents happening, I hope researchers will start thinking in those lines and definitely come out with a solution for this.
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Old 1st November 2006, 14:26   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sreenivass
This article tells me otherwise. Recirculatemode is the one that causes CO2 level.

http://rb-k.bosch.de/en/start/specials/ccs/ccs.html

It says CO2 is the one that causes drowsiness.
I don't know about the CO2, but my Santro manual confirms this report otherwise:


Quote:
-- Avoid idling the engine for prolonged periods with people inside the car
If it is necessary to idle the engine for a prolonged period with people inside the car, be sure that you do so only in an open area with the air intake set at "Fresh" and fan operating at one of the higher speeds so that the fresh air is drawn into the interior.
If you drive with the trunk open because you are carrying objects that make it necessary:

1. Close all windows
2. Open side vents
3. Set the air intake control at "Fresh"; the air flow control at "Floor" or "Face" and the fan at one of the higher speeds.

To assure proper operation of the ventilation system, be sure that the ventilation air intakes located just in front of the windshield are kept clear of snow, ice, leaves or other obstructions.
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