A New York Times story this week suggested growing instances of carbon monoxide deaths in the U.S. from people who drive keyless ignititon vehicles.
It’s a case of people who can’t hear the engine and park the car in a garage, believing they turned off the vehicle. But as the Times found out, more than two dozen deaths were reported due to the wirless key fob. Drivers go into their home, only to die after being overcome from carbon monoxide fumes while they were sleeping or watching TV.
Oklahoma City fire officials have yet to handle such a case but it has their attention.
“That would be easy to happen,” commented Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson in an interview with OK Energy Today. “They’re extremely quiet. But we have not had cases of that happen yet.”
He cited his own experience of walking away from his keyless car in a shopping mall parking lot thinking he had turned off the engine. When he couldn’t sound the alarm to lock the car after walking some distance from it, he determined the engine was still running.
If there are cases across the state, it’s unknown. The State Fire Marshal’s office did not respond to an inquiry made by OK Energy Today.
While the keyless entry cases found by the Times totaled more than two dozen others, there are numerous other cases where people survived after being overcome by carbon monoxide fumes that filled their house. Thinking they had turned off the ignition, they entered their house, took a nap or sat and watched TV, only to be overcome by the deadly fumes.
Others survived but were left with serious brain damage. While the number of fatalities is relatively small nationally, the growing number of keyless ignition vehicles could result in more deaths and injuries.
Keyless ignitions are standard in more than half of the 17 million new cars sold every year in the U.S. And of course, the vehicles have newer and quieter engines that to some drivers, are difficult to hear.