More than two dozen people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning after accidentally leaving their cars running in the garage, according to The New York Times. Dozens more suffered debilitating injuries.
Why is this happening?
It’s a mistake that’s made easier by modern keyless ignition systems, which allow drivers to start and shut off their vehicle with the press of a button. The car key — really just a key fob — can remain in a purse or pocket. But making it so easy turn on a vehicle also makes it easy to forget to turn it off.
This is especially true with quiet, hybrid cars. The engine might not be running when the car is first parked, but will come on later as the car’s batteries run down. Even many non-hybrid cars today have extremely quiet engines, the sound of which can be virtually undetectable when the car is parked.
What cars have this feature?
So-called keyless entry systems are a standard feature on many new cars and at least an option on even the least expensive economy models. It’s a convenience that’s on millions of cars today, and it’s appreciated by owners who no longer have to fumble with car keys.
With this feature, drivers can lock and unlock the car just by touching the door handles — without using the key fob at all. Once inside, drivers can start their vehicle the press of a button or, in some cases, the twist of a knob.
What can automakers do to prevent these accidents?
Automakers should make sure vehicles have audible alarms that can be heard outside of the car when a driver gets out of a running car, said Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports. The magazine has called on all automakers to add features like this to prevent the problem.
Some automakers already do have audible notifications. Others, such as General Motors (GM), have designed their cars to automatically shut off after a certain period of time once the driver has left the vehicle. Still other automakers design vehicles to automatically turn off whenever the driver exits the vehicle with the key fob.
Are government regulators doing anything?
Regulations have been proposed, but never enacted, according to the New York Times and other reports. The challenge for automakers is to balance customer safety with convenience. There may be some times, for example, when a driver might want to let their car’s engine run when they’re not in the vehicle. For instance, they may want to leave the air conditioner on for a pet inside the car, or maybe they’re using headlights to illuminate what they’re doing.
What can I do to be safe?
The most important thing for drivers is to make very sure a car is turned off every time it’s parked.
It’s easy for people for get distracted by children or a phone call and leave the ignition on, said Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for AAA’s northeast regional office.
Specifically, he suggests that drivers get to know what a car’s gauge cluster looks like when the ignition is on and when it’s off. If the gauges are still lit up, the car is still probably on. Hybrid cars, in particular, will have a dashboard light indicating the car is turned on and ready to drive.
Finally, to prevent this and other tragic accidents, every home should have working carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors should not be placed in the garage, where they probably can’t be heard, but instead in a home’s living areas, said Lt. Athony Mancuso of the New York City Fire Department.
“When we do see a carbon monoxide death,” he said, “the people don’t have a carbon monoxide detector.”
New Migrant Crisis Threatens to Bring Down Merkel in 48 Hours
The era of Angela Merkel may be coming to an end as longstanding disagreements on migration policies between her and her Bavarian allies threaten to come to a head and potentially unseat the German leader, who has been at the country’s helm since 2005.
The coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) led by Chancellor Merkel and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) led by interior minister Horst Seehofer is in crisis over differences on mass migration.
The CSU under Seehofer has demanded that Germany should be able to reject migrants at the border of the countryi f they have no identity papers, are registered in another country, or have been refused refugee status previously, but Merkel believes turning them away udermine the EU’s open borders Schengen Area.
The Bavarian has threatened to use his powers as interior minister to order the border is secured unlitaterally — a move which would likely result in Merkel moving to sack him, the CSU walking out of government, and her fragile ‘grand coalition’ unravelling.
Germany is currently admitting around 11,000 asylum seekers every month, according to The Times.
Disagreements on asylum and migration policy between Seehofer and Merkel are nothing new, with Seehofer previously demanding an upper limit of 200,000 migrants per year and even threatening not to campaign with Merkel and the CDU over the issue in late 2016.
Since then, the rise of the anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) to becoming the official opposition to the current grand coalition government in the Bundestag has seen the CSU react by embracing a tougher line on mass migration and champion more conservative social issues, even ordering crosses be put up in government buildings to assert Bavaria’s “cultural identity.”
One of the main considerations for the CSU in the near-term is the looming Bavarian elections scheduled for October of this year. Traditionally, the CSU has managed to form a majority on its own, but the rise of the AfD has sapped away support, leaving the CSU with around 40 percent of the vote according to current polls.
According to German newspaper Die Welt, the current tough stance on mass migration by Seehofer is popular in Bavaria and could explain the party taking the position to try and drive votes back from the AfD.
In the past Chancellor Merkel has been able to dismiss concerns from the CSU but her position as much weaker following one of the worst election results the CDU has ever seenin last year’s national election.
German media have painted a grave picture for the future of Chancellor Merkel, with the Mannheimer Morgen writing that she “has been plucked like a hen after slaughter,”and that her power now merely existed on paper.
from usapoliticstoday website
37 US children die in hot cars each year, report says
The official start of summer comes later this month, but already children have died after being left unattended in hot cars, according to the nonprofit National Safety Council, drawing attention to an issue that kills an average of 37 children a year.
The council released a report this month that says 742 US children died of heatstroke in vehicles between 1998 and 2017. Forty-two children died in these conditions in 2017, up from 39 the previous year.
Just 21 states have laws regarding this issue, the report says; eight include the possibility of felony charges for individuals who deliberately leave a child alone.
“There is a patchwork system across the country,” said Amy Artuso, the council’s senior program manager of advocacy. “We are calling for codification or increased consistency across the states. Either pass legislation, or improve existing legislation to better protect children.”
The report highlights the three main circumstances that result in pediatric vehicular hyperthermia: Fifty-five percent were parents or other caregivers unknowingly leaving a child behind, 27% were children gaining access to a car on their own, and 18% were parents or caregivers purposely leaving a child inside.
Typically, a caregiver plans to keep the child in the car for only a few minutes to run an errand and has no malicious intent. However, the sun creates a “greenhouse effect” in vehicles, according to a 2005 study. On an 86-degree day, the temperature in a car can increase by 19 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. A child’s body overheats faster than an adult’s and can start shutting down before then.
“We want parents to always look before they lock,” Artuso said. “Many parents who have lived this nightmare have said their mind was on autopilot.”
Stephanie Salvilla of Orlando, Florida, is one of those parents.
One morning in July 2009, she was running on four hours of sleep and adjusting to a new routine. Her husband put the children in the car that morning, so she did not place bottles in the front seat as a reminder like she normally did.
Salvilla first dropped off her 5-year-old daughter, and she says her brain “rebooted” when she saw her work building. Her 5-month-old son, Gannon, stayed behind in the car and the blistering Florida sun. She spent the day chatting to colleagues about him and planning weekend activities. It was after work when she found her son lifeless in her car.
Salvilla now speaks with parents to remind them that the experience could happen to anyone.
“Maybe they feel like a good parent could never forget,” she said. “Maybe they feel like their love for their child would supersede their nerve cells and memory cells.”
Salvilla also works with the safety organization KidsAndCars.org advocating for technology in cars to remind parents to check the back seat before locking up and walking away.
“There are reminders to put your seat belt on, turn off the headlights and take the key out of the ignition,” said Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org. “There should be something that tells you if you’ve left your child behind.”
Salvilla says such reminders would have helped her. “With one simple change of routine that morning, I lost my son, and it was my fault,” she said. “I needed those visual cues, and it failed.”
Provisions to require visual or audio reminders for children left in cars have been included in the federal SELF DRIVE Act, which was introduced and passed the House in 2017. The comparable AV START Act was introduced in the Senate the same year and passed the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and awaits confirmation by the full Senate.
The new National Safety Council report also calls for the protection of anyone who acts in “good faith” to save a child from a hot car, the removal of “safe” time periods when kids may be left unattended in cars and the allocation of money from fines to education programs for parents, caregivers and offenders.
While supporters wait for these technological upgrades, the council and KidsAndCars.org advise caregivers to keep purses, cell phones or even a shoe in the back seat as a mental prompt to look before locking. Setting up a system with child care providers to contact guardians if a child does not show up as expected could also lead to a decrease in these preventable deaths, they say.
New York Blood Center declares a ‘Blood Emergency’
The Empire State’s plasma supply needs some pumping up!
New York Blood Center officials say its blood bank is so low, it’s nearing emergency status.
The organization tries to maintain a seven to nine day blood back up at all times.
That reserve has fallen to four days for most blood types — but even lower for O negative and B negative.
“We really need a constant stream of blood donors and to maintain our supply for any tragedy that may be just around the corner,” said Andrea Cefarelli, senior executive director of donor recruitment for New York Blood Center.
The last blood emergency was declared over a year ago after a similar drop in reserves, the group said.
The Blood Center is encouraging companies and community groups to host blood drives in July and August to boost supplies.
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