WACO, Texas (KWTX) -A Houston woman and a girl, 8, are dead as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was left running in a garage to help generate heat in a Houston, Texas home on Tuesday, February 16, according to KidsAndCars.org.
A man and a boy, 7, also inside the home were transported to a hospital for treatment.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can quickly cause disorientation, sudden illness or even death.
Often called the “silent or invisible killer,” the deadly gas often goes undetected, striking victims who are caught off guard or succumb in their sleep.
The early signs of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath and nausea.
KidsAndCars.org says vehicle-related CO tragedies occur when vehicles are left running inside the garage of a home or if the tailpipe becomes clogged by snow, ice or debris.
Additionally, mechanical problems can cause CO to leak into the cabin of a vehicle.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 400 people die in the United States each year due to unintentional, non-fire-related CO poisoning, many of which were vehicle-related.
KidsAndCars.org safety tips to protect families from CO poisoning:
- The No. 1 safety tip is to ensure that you have working carbon monoxide detectors in all areas of the home, especially near sleeping areas. Change batteries twice a year and replace detectors every 6-10 years.
- Never warm up a vehicle in any enclosed space.Never leave a vehicle running in the garage, not even with the garage door open.
- Do not put children or adults inside a running vehicle while clearing snow or ice off the vehicle.
- Keyless-ignition vehicles should always be double-checked to ensure the vehicle has been turned off. Even if you take the key fob with you, the vehicle could keep running.
- Always clear the tailpipe of a vehicle in inclement weather conditions. If the tailpipe becomes clogged with ice, snow or other debris, carbon monoxide can leak into the passenger compartment.
What to do if carbon monoxide alarms sound in the home:
- Immediately move all household members outside to fresh air – including pets.
- Call 911.
- Do not reenter the home until authorities have given you permission to do so.