Recently, Malaysia was shocked by a tragedy where three out of four students that went on a vacation to Penang, died after sleeping in their car while the engine was running.
The deceased were identified as Sharifah Fariesha, Ayuni Shazwanie Shabri and Nor Adilah Mohd Safwan. This leaves Adilah’s twin sister, Nor Aqilah who is currently critically injured and being treated at the intensive care unit of the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Army Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. All four are 21-years-old.
The group had just completed their studies in Pharmacy and were on a vacation together in Pulau Jerejak for Malaysia Day. While they were travelling back to their homes in Kedah, Aqilah, who was driving at the time wanted to stop for a break after she complained of a headache and had vomited.
The four women then decided to stop at a petrol station in Sama Gagah to take a nap. After not responding to family members’ calls or texts, one of their fathers got concerned and rushed to the location to check on them. Upon arrival, he found them unconscious inside the Honda Odyssey.
It is believed that the three friends have died because of carbon monoxide poisoning as they slept with the windows up, air-conditioning on and engine running.
Central Seberang Prai OCPD Asst Comm Shafee Abd Samada said a check by a technician found leakage in the car’s exhaust, resulting in engine emissions being drawn into the cabin as the vehicle was stationary.
With this tragedy, we should always remember that it could happen to anyone as the threat of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning in our own cars is very real. Severe neurological damage may occur after only minutes of exposure and the biggest problem of it all – it is both odourless and colourless. Because of that, the best way to avoid accidental poisoning is to prevent exposure in the first place.
According to Lifewire, here are some useful precautions:
1. Regularly inspect and repair your exhaust system. Leaks in the exhaust system can allow carbon monoxide to enter your vehicle. Exhaust system leaks between the engine and the catalytic converter are especially dangerous.
2. Regularly inspect your emissions system and make sure your engine is tuned. The concentration of carbon monoxide in the exhaust of modern vehicles is relatively low. If the engine is out of tune or the emissions system is malfunctioning, the carbon monoxide levels may skyrocket.
3. Avoid driving a car with holes in the floor or trunk, or with the trunk or liftgate open. Any holes in the underside of your vehicle may allow exhaust fumes to enter your vehicle. This is especially dangerous if the exhaust system has leaked, or you sit in traffic a lot.
Your car’s condition is pertinent to your safety. If you’ve been in an accident, even if it’s a fender bender, check for damage that might result in carbon monoxide leakage.
Most important of it all, if you were to sleep in a car for an emergency or you are too tired to drive, it is best to close the engine and leave the windows open. Please share this message with your friends and family so we can all stay safe.