One Easy Winter Task Could Save Lives If Done First
Kristin Danley 11/17/2017
When winter weather swoops in bringing along frigid temperatures, blustering winds and deep snow, people take action. Before a storm hits, they'll run to the store and stock up on provisions, de-icer for their sidewalk and driveway, maybe grab another shovel or ice scraper for the vehicle.
Oftentimes homes will lose power during storms and families lose their source of heat. People always are advised to never use their gas stoves for heat nor run a generator inside a garage or home because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
But that's not the only source of carbon monoxide poisoning in the winter that people should note. This was a hard lesson learned by one New Jersey family trapped in a massive snowstorm that blanketed the East Coast.
The one thing people must remember to do when shoveling snow is something so simple. But it's life-threatening if not done.
Felix Bonilla's girlfriend, Sashalynn Rosa, and their children ages one and three sought warmth in their car. They turned on the vehicle and ran the heater on high while Felix bundled up and traipsed outside to clear snow.
However, the vehicle's tailpipe had become clogged with snow, which blocked the exhaust. That meant the poisonous carbon monoxide gasses emitted by cars were channeled back into the Bonilla family's car, according to WABC.
As the mom and wee ones huddled together, carbon monoxide gasses overcame them and they passed away -- the mom and infant son Messiah instantly, the little girl Saniyah at the hospital a day later. The father, Felix, naturally was distraught over what something as simple as snow did to his family.
Known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that is toxic and is a surprising source of accidental poisoning in the United States. People exposed to this gas are rendered unconscious in minutes.
Emergency workers, medical professionals and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services all advise people to ensure that more than just the driveway is cleared and free from snow. Motorists must check their tailpipes to ensure it is free of snow; in fact, experts insist motorists clear the tailpipe before ever starting the vehicle and letting it warm up.
Carbon monoxide also can build up in front of and behind a vehicle if snow is not completely cleared from it and the gas cannot circulate then dissipate outdoors. Experts also warn stranded motorists to keep their vehicle tailpipes free of snow while waiting for help to arrive.
One Pennsylvania man succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning while sitting in his running vehicle waiting on a snow plow to pass by, but the plow ended up burying his vehicle - trapping carbon monoxide gasses in his tailpipe and in his vehicle. The man had been trying to dig his vehicle out of the snow before the plow arrived, according to the Reading Eagle.
Both of these devastating incidents serve as a sad reminder that everyone must clear snow from their vehicle tailpipes before starting the engine. One simple task could save your life.