Rumours of People ‘Dying’ Due to Sleeping in An Idling Car with Air-Con On Aren’t Exactly True

Image: JimAK_Photo /

Sleeping in your car alone could be a pretty comfortable experience, what with the AC blowing cool air into the area and a silent atmosphere that makes it an optimal choice for your napping booze.

But did you know that you could die?

Yeah, you could die in less than an hour.

Got your attention? Alright, let’s move on. So what happens is that there are several factors that could attribute to your untimely demise in your own car.

However…it isn’t true, though the rumours have been spreading around since the invention of cars and air-conditioner.

Here’s why.

Dangers of Sleeping in a Car

If the mechanical functions of the car are not up to standard, the chances of a leakage of the car’s exhaust into the vehicle’s cabin while a person is snoozing could increase the risk of suffocation as it would decrease the oxygen level inside the car.

The main thing to watch out, though, is the accumulation of carbon monoxide which can be caused by a leak from the exhaust.

CO is noted to be poisonous to the blood, but an increase in CO levels in the car could actually compromise the amount of oxygen reaching the blood.

This in turn results in the blood carrying more carbon monoxide which ultimately leads to a shock or in severe cases sudden death.

In fact, even in the case of a car with a well-working AC system, the air circulation in close spaces can be compromised. Even if the air circulates in and out of the car, it’s still not enough for someone breathing air in a closed space.

Additionally, some of the air gets entrapped in the circulation process, thus causing the level of carbon monoxide to increase and the oxygen level to decrease.

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Another common misconception among many is that opening your car window will create a sufficient ventilation system in the car. Even with the car window open, carbon monoxide will accumulate at a lower level, causing the oxygen levels in the blood to be lowered and thereafter leading to the loss of bodily fluids and water.

So why is it that you can be awake in your car, but not asleep? The answer is that you would be aware of the temperature in your car when you’re awake, and you’re free to roll up the windows if you’re feeling stuffy or just need fresh air.

When you’re sleeping in your car, you’re hardly going to be aware of the temperature levels and therefore can be prone to heat build-up and CO accumulation.

Doctors have advised drivers to sleep in the car ONLY when it’s an emergency, and even when you’re awake you should always take short breaks by getting out of the car when driving for long periods of time.

But of course, the tale of dying immediately after sleeping in a car doesn’t hold true.

Though it’s good to know that if you’re tired, you should just find a bench and take your nap. It’ll be safer, you’ll save more fuel and you can feed the mosquitoes, too.

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