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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


Washington Times-Herald
December 24, 1922

Gasoline Combustion Generates Deadly Carbon Monoxide Gas.

"Don't warm up your engine in the garage with all the doors and windows closed," warns Fred M. Rosseland, chief of the public safety divison of the National Safety Council, in calling the attention of motorists to the danger of automobile exhaust gases in unventilated rooms.  Although many cases of fatal carbon monoxide asphyxiation occur in private garages every fall and winter, especially in Northern communities, still the hazard does not receive the attention it deserves as a menace.

A running motor in a garage 10x10x20 feet with doors and windows closed will, in five minutes, produce enough carbon dioxide gas to induce asphyxiation," says Mr. Rosseland.  "If the engine continues to run, the concentration mounts steadily toward a rapidly fatal amount.  If it is necessary to run a motor for any length of time take care to see that there is sufficient ventilation to keep the air clear.


"The deadly carbon monoxide contained in the exhaust gas creeps upon one and does its work without warning.  The victim falls insensible before he realizes that anything is wrong.  A slight dizziness is the only warning.  Exercise of a little forethought in giving the garage sufficient ventilation while the engine is running will eliminate the danger.

In case of carbon monoxide asphyxiation from automobile exhaust gases, immediate application of the Prone Pressure method of resuscitation is immediately and absolutely necessary.  Even a couple of minutes' delay after breathing has stopped may be fatal—a quarter or half hour is almost always fatal.

"The next step after restoring spontaneous breathing is to accelerate the elimination of carbon monoxide from the blood.  Carbon monoxide unites with the blood and displaces the oxygen.  Left in the blood it attacks the brain with disasterous results to the victims.


"Extensive experiments carried on recently by Dr. Yandell Henderson, of Yale University, and Drs. H. W. Haggard and A. L. Prince, showed that the only certain method of displacing the carbon monoxide was through the inhalation of a mixture of oxygen and carbon dioxide.  Most municipal gas companies are now equipped with the apparatus for reviving victims of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"But preventive measures are much more to be desired than the use of resuscitation knowledge in bringing a victim of automobile exhaust back to consciousness.  In this case the open door is the safeguard.  If necessary to run your motor for any length of time within the garage open doors and windows.  Just remember this and pass the same information on to your friends.  It may save a life.

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