Be informed: Carbon monoxide poisoning in cars - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Be informed: Carbon monoxide poisoning in cars

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The snow has piled up, and it won't be going anywhere anytime soon. It could make for a potentially deadly situation, if your car ends up sliding off the road and into a snowbank.

Buried deep in snow, the exhaust of your car could back up into the cab and create a toxic level of carbon monoxide while you wait for help.

"You will start to feel sick. You might get a severe headache right off the bat, then you get the flu-like symptoms, all the way to unconsciousness and death," explained Battalion Chief Mike Moore.

Waterloo Fire & Rescue helped KWWL safely test just how quickly CO levels can rise in a buried car.

"I think it depends a lot too on the vehicle. How airtight it is, how new it is, how good the exhaust system is." said Moore, as he and KWWL's Jessica Hartman sat in a running car buried up to the floorboards in snow.

Moore watched the number in the far left corner sitting at zero on a CO monitor, as the minutes pass by.  

The stopwatch hit 17 minutes and the CO level still read zero, but Battalion Chief Mike Moore says it could take minutes or hours, depending on the situation.

"Run your car for ten minutes with the window cracked, then shut it off; just to stay warm. Because the potential is there for the carbon monoxide to build up. Potential is enough.  That is why I am in business doing what I do, because things happen," said Moore.

This type of carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen if you start your car to warm-up before clearing away the snow from around the tail pipe.

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