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MOH warns it’s dangerous to sleep in the car even with windows down

Sleeping in your car may seem convenient at times, but there are huge risks that come with it.

Since the tragic death of three local college students, who fell asleep in their car with the engine running last week, many Malaysians have been curious to find out just how dangerous it can be to sleep in a car.

While there have been reports saying that it’s okay to sleep in a car with the windows rolled down, the Ministry of Health (MoH) debunked that statement today with a post on its official Facebook page.

According to MoH, sleeping in your car is never a safe bet, regardless of whether the windows are up or rolled down because of the carbon monoxide (CO) gas build up in the “closed air circulation” environment created in the car cabin.

Carbon monoxide gas builds up in the car cabin when the engine is running, as the gas is released anytime a fossil fuel, like gasoline, is burned.

It is an extremely harmful colourless and odourless gas that displaces oxygen in the blood by binding with red blood cells, depriving the heart, brain and other vital organs of oxygen in the process.

Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, chest pains, difficulty in breathing, confusion and seizures.

If there is a high concentration of the gas in the air, an average person can lose consciousness within two hours and death can occur if the concentration of the gas in the blood gets too high.

MoH said in the post that when a vehicle is left running for a long period of time, there is a higher chance of a leakage in the car’s exhaust, which will then channel the harmful gas into the car cabin.

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Rolling your windows down won’t solve the problem either, as even if air circulates in and out of the car, it still wouldn’t be enough for someone breathing air in a closed space as carbon monoxide will still accumulate at a lower level.

This is because some of the air is entrapped in the circulation process, causing the level of carbon monoxide to increase and the oxygen level to decrease.

MoH added in the post that the safest thing to do if you feel drowsy while driving is to stop your car, get out of it and look for a safe spot to rest with “good air circulation.”

Last week, three college students were found dead, and one left in critical condition, due to carbon monoxide poisoning after falling asleep in their car.

The students from Sungai Petani, Kedah, all aged 21, stopped at a petrol station in Sama Gagah, Penang for a short break on their way home after a trip to Pulau Jerejak in Penang.

When they failed to return home, one of the victim’s father went to the site to search for them and found all four unconscious in the vehicle, with the engine still running and all doors closed.

When an ambulance arrived on the scene, one of the four girls, Sharifah Fariesha Syed Fathi, was pronounced dead.

Ayuni Shazwanie Shabri later passed away at the Seberang Jaya Hospital and Nor Adilah Mohd Shafwan passed away the next day without regaining consciousness — her twin Nor Aqilah is still under close observation in the intensive care unit.

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According to Central Seberang Perai district police chief assistant commissioner Shafee Abd Samad, a mechanic from Honda Bukit Mertajam inspected the car the four students were found in and suspected a leak on the car’s exhaust pipe. — Malay Mail