Keyless Cars and CO Deaths

December 7, 2018
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In This Article

Keyless ignitions are far more convenient for drivers than the standard key fob, but that convenience may be coming at a cost. More and more stories of keyless cars leading to carbon monoxide deaths have been spreading throughout the media recently and consumers should be aware of the risks if they own a keyless car or are considering investing in this new technology.

Keyless Ignitions Can Be Deadly

The idea of starting your car with the push of a button is appealing for most modern day drivers, especially those who are constantly fumbling around and searching for their keys. With a keyless car, the key fob only needs to be close to the vehicle for your hand to be able to open the door. And with the simple push of a button, your car is started and ready to go.

Unfortunately, as easy as it is to start your car with keyless ignitions, it’s also just as easy to forget to stop it! These forgetful moments are leading to more than just empty gas tanks- they are costing people their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Keyless Cars and CO Deaths

In August of this year, a 91-year-old man from Tampa, Florida parked his car in his garage around 8 o’clock in the morning. When he didn’t show up for a friends poker game the following day, local police performed a wellness check where they sadly found the man dead in his master bedroom. When police arrived at the man’s house, his car was still running in the garage. The carbon monoxide level was at 300% in the home and it appeared the man went to bed and never woke up due to the poisonous gas.

When drivers forget to turn off their keyless vehicles, carbon monoxide gas (CO) continues to leak from the exhaust. Left outside, this gas can blow away with the wind and disperse more easily into the air. However, the danger arises most when people park their cars in their garage where the gas has nowhere left go but into the rooms and vents of your home. Dozens of people have been killed over the years from forgetting to turn off their vehicles and these are only the number of deaths that have been reported, far from the actual total.

The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide gas is a colorless, odorless gas nicknamed the ‘silent killer’. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 430 people die of carbon monoxide poisoning in our country every year and most never even know it’s happening until it’s too late. CO becomes deadly to humans when they are exposed to the gas long enough for harmful amounts to enter the bloodstream, allowing the gas to replace oxygen in the blood leading to serious illnesses including:

  • tissue damage
  • fetal death or miscarriage
  • permanent brain damage
  • heart damage and cardiac complications
  • death

Sadly, a number of carbon monoxide deaths occur when people are sleeping and are not able to  monitor the machines and appliances that leaks are coming from. In the past, generators, furnaces, space heaters, and gas stoves have been typical culprits for releasing this deadly gas into people’s homes, but now we can add keyless cars to the list of CO hazards to watch out for.

Why It’s So Easy To Forget

There are a number of reasons why consumers are having a hard time remembering to turn off their keyless cars, all in which are contributing to the increase in carbon monoxide deaths:

  • Breaking a habit: The keyless ignition was first introduced in 1998, but it did not become widely popular in vehicles until the last few years. This means millions of drivers started off driving cars requiring the turn of a key every day, multiple times a day, and have been relying on this movement for decades. Without the act of putting a key in a car, it’s easy to forget to take it out, resulting in a car that is silently running and releasing CO into surrounding areas.
  • No Safe Guards: Few cars with keyless ignitions have effective alert systems to warn drivers that their cars are still on. Without these, drivers can get out of their vehicles and enter their homes without a second thought to check, putting their lives at serious risk of illness or death.
  • Ineffective Automatic Turn Shutdown: Most keyless vehicles will turn off if your key fob is too far away. But if you are in your home, chances are your fob is close enough to your car where it will continue to run until it is out of gas.

Preventing CO Illnesses and Deaths

Everyone forgets from time to time, but your forgetfulness doesn’t have to cost you or your family their health and safety. Any owner of a keyless car should follow these simple safety steps to helping reduce the chance of deadly CO leaks in their home:

  • Install CO Detectors: Make sure you have properly installed, battery-operated CO detectors in your home to help alert you when harmful levels of CO are present.
  • Leave Reminders: If you know you are prone to forgetting to turn off your keyless ignition, leave reminders in your garage and home to alert you to check your car before entering the house.
  • Research Keyless Cars: Do your research into any new keyless vehicle you buy to ensure it comes with an effective alert system if the car is left running. Newer models equipped with keyless starters are being made with better alert systems that will turn off the vehicle if it is running over 30 minutes.

Don’t take a chance on your memory when it comes to your keyless vehicle. Help ensure your car is always off before entering your home to prevent unnecessary illnesses and deaths to you and those you love.

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