As the snow begins to move out of the area and residents begin digging their vehicles out from underneath the snow, safety officials are warning to make sure the vehicle's tailpipe is also clear.
Each year in the U.S., approximately 500 deaths are attributed to unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, that includes drivers sitting in their cars while the tailpipe is blocked with snow, according to the Center for Disease Control.
If blocked, the colorless, tasteless, odorless, and nonirritating gas creeps into the car through leaks or cracks in the floorboard if the exhaust pipe is obstructed without the driver or its occupants noticing until it's too late, officials said.
Last year, a young New Jersey mother and her one-year-old son died while sitting in a running car that had its tailpipe covered in snow, according to the New York Daily News .
The two, along with another child, were inside the car as the father was shoveling around the outside.
Their deaths were a classic example of how quickly someone can die if a tailpipe is left filled with snow, warns the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The NHTSA added if you become stuck in snow, to avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm.
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