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The silent threat that makes your car so dangerous in a blizzard

Snowstorm Jonas claimed the lives of a mother and her toddler son, but it wasn’t because of the cold — it was from carbon monoxide poisoning from the blocked tailpipe of their car.

Sashalynn Rosa, 23, was inside her car with her 1-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, with the motor running, while the children’s father tried to dig them out of the enormous snowdrift that covered the vehicle. Unfortunately the car’s tailpipe was blocked by snow, sending exhaust back inside the car. The three were rushed to the hospital, but tragically only the 3-year-old survived. She is listed in critical condition as of this writing.

More: Keeping you safe: Detectors for your home

Most of us know how dangerous it is to start the car in a closed garage. But how many of us realize those same deadly conditions can be created by snow?

According to a 2007 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, 147 people die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning from vehicle exhaust. And every year, many of those deaths are the result of snow blocking an exhaust pipe.

More: Protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning

Don’t let this happen to you or your loved ones. Follow these important tips to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning during or after a storm:

  • Don’t sit inside a car with the motor running while it’s being dug out of a snowdrift.
  • When digging out a car, start from the rear. “Any snow that covers your tailpipe, you want to shovel the snow from the back of the car and clear the tailpipe before you even start the car,” Battalion Chief Chris DiBella of the Passaic, New Jersey Police Department tells ABC7NY.
  • If you happen to be stranded in a car during a blizzard, advises running the motor for only 10 minutes each hour, cracking a window open and checking your tailpipe for blockage.
  • Know how to recognize the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning — they can be subtle.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can also happen when vents around your home are blocked by snow too. So be sure to check that after a storm as well.

More: How turning up the heat in my house nearly killed my family

A young father lost his beloved partner and at least one of his children from this understandable but deadly mistake. Imagine his heartbreak — and make sure you avoid the same.

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