DOH warns of suffocation risk in cars

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DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag warned the public on the dangers of leaving unattended people in cars, pointing out that there is a high risk of death by suffocation.

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The warning came in the wake of a tragic incident in which an eight-year-old child in Tondo, Manila succumbed after being left unattended in her parents’ vehicle.

Tayag said there are two causes of suffocation in a vehicle that lead to death–heat build up and carbon monoxide poisoning.

The temperature inside a car is much higher than the temperature outside, particularly in hot, sunny weather.
“More heat remains in the car the longer it is exposed to heat. If it is 20 degrees outside, temperatures in the car could reach 60 degrees,” Tayag explained.

Even an hour of exposure to this kind of temperature could cause brain malfunction or heat stroke, he said.

Tayag urged everyone to “never leave anyone even for a minute,” especially kids, because “their thermoregulatory centers are not matured yet.”

These are the parts of the brain that help humans adjust and adapt to temperature.

Another cause of suffocation is through carbon monoxide poisoning from leaking exhausts.
Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in one’s body.

An autopsy helps in identifying which from the two caused the death based on the time of death.

“Many cases were reported and even brought to hospitals but most are already dead,” said Tayag.

Tayag commended malls with lounges for drivers to prevent needless deaths by giving them a safe place to rest, rather than waiting in vehicles.

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