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#1
Old 12-18-2011, 01:01 AM
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Sleeping in a closed car w/ the engine off. Can you run out of oxygen?

Just curious. If you fall asleep in a car with the engine off and the windows all the way up can you eventually use up all the oxygen in the air and asphyxiate yourself if you are asleep long enough or are cars designed not to let this happen?
#2
Old 12-18-2011, 01:06 AM
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It would depend on the car, wouldn't it? I don't imagine they are all built the same.
#3
Old 12-18-2011, 01:06 AM
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Too many air leaks in a typical car. Closing the door doesn't hermetically seal the compartment. It's designed to shed water, but it's not airtight nor watertight.
#4
Old 12-18-2011, 01:38 AM
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I, too, don't believe that cars are that hermetically sealed -- if nothing else, I would expect that there'd be some air exchange through the vents.

In the other version of this thread that you posted (which I'll report to be merged), you mentioned cars with windows "blowing out" in the heat. I'd like to see a cite for that, but even if it's happened, I would imagine it's not due to increased air pressure, but more likely due to the materials in the windows expanding in the heat, and having no place to go.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 12-18-2011 at 01:39 AM.
#5
Old 12-18-2011, 01:47 AM
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No cars are certainly not hermetically sealed. See this clip of Top Gear trying to fill a car with water. Even the one that filled nicely wasn't exactly water tight.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=lU9sf...e_gdata_player
#6
Old 12-18-2011, 01:53 AM
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The answer is "no".
#7
Old 12-18-2011, 02:00 AM
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Even if they're not sealed, diffusion may be slow enough to suffocate you. Just saying it's not sealed is not enough.
#8
Old 12-18-2011, 02:18 AM
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Of the two-hundred and eighty-nine million hits on Google for "sleeping in car", anyone have any cites of someone running out of air while sleeping in a parked car with it's motor shut off? Thought not.
#9
Old 12-18-2011, 02:31 AM
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Oh, you don't suffocate because of lack of oxygen, but because of build up of carbon dioxide. Is the OP interested if it's dangerous, or possible?
#10
Old 12-18-2011, 02:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronX View Post
Oh, you don't suffocate because of lack of oxygen, but because of build up of carbon dioxide. Is the OP interested if it's dangerous, or possible?
Either really.
#11
Old 12-18-2011, 10:38 AM
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Well then let's put it another way: of the well more than half a billion cars on the road these days, and the billions on the road in the last century, anyone have any cites of someone dying from CO2 while sleeping in a parked car with it's motor shut off? Thought not.
#12
Old 12-18-2011, 10:42 AM
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Data point: here in the Great White North, I drive about with my windows shut and my vents closed when it gets very cold. I also sleep in my car a fair bit (to the degree that I keep a mattress in the back), also with the windows shut and the vents closed.

A great many data points: a lot of people drive about with their windows shut and their vents closed. A lot of people sleep in their cars with their windows shut and their vents closed.

Last edited by Muffin; 12-18-2011 at 10:44 AM.
#13
Old 12-18-2011, 07:52 PM
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Even if it were hermetically sealed, you'd have to be in there quite a while.

According to this, humans breath about 550 liters of O2 a day. Air is about 20% oxygen, so that would correspond to about 2700 liters of air. Even a compact car has more interior space than that. Obviously, you can't breathe up all the oxygen in a given space, but, estimating based on atmospheric pressure at altitude, people can generally handle breathing when there's only half as much O2 as at sea level. Add in the fact that you respire more slowly when sleeping, you can easily sleep for more than 12 hours in any car big enough to let you comfortably sleep for 12 or more hours before you'd start to be in any danger from lack of oxygen.

The real risk, as other people mentioned, would be CO2 overdose. It looks like CO2 poisoning starts with an elevation of blood CO2 levels of about 25%, but I don't know how to calculate how that changes as you rebreathe more CO2-rich air.
#14
Old 12-18-2011, 08:04 PM
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This is only anecdotal, but I used to sleep in my VW bug ca. 1965 quite often (it was cheaper than a motel room and easier than pitching a tent). Although that car is well known for its tight fitting doors and windows, I never experienced any distress that could be attributed to oxygen starvation or elevated C02 levels. And sometimes I even had a...ahem...companion, who had no problems, either.
#15
Old 12-18-2011, 08:17 PM
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Can I really be the first guy to ask, does the situation change if you've just eaten a couple of cans of beans?
#16
Old 12-18-2011, 08:36 PM
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Mythbusters tested that ("Flatulence Myths"). No.
#17
Old 05-15-2017, 06:42 PM
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My one time scary experience

I can only relate my experience and it was frightening.

1998 i slept inside my 1984 Subaru Hatchback Wagon one bight when i couldnt find a place to sleep and had one friend with me. We fell asleep around 12:30/1am and i woke around 6am. I had a difficult time gathering my awareness. All the windows were saturated with condensation to the point that it looked like it was sprayed with a water bottle as was the dashboard and the door panels. This was in the late spring but it was in the 50s that night. I had twitching in my hands and arms and felt like i couldnt get any air and started to panic. I had to shake my friend to wake him up whether from lack of sleep or oxygen deprivation is unknown. I opened the door and tried to stand up out of the car and found i was very badly cramping in my back and my legs felt unsteady. After a few breaths of the morning air i started to focus and i realized my eyes were blurred previously and had begun to focus. When i sat back in the car and took note of my surroundings i saw that all the windows and the sunroof were all closed. I think we came very close to not waking up though it may have been the body's effort to stay alive that caused the spasming muscles and the jolt awake in the first place. I hope this helps someone else. If you decide to sleep in your car, lower a window, better safe and cold or attacked by bugs than dead
#18
Old 05-15-2017, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReviewFever View Post
I can only relate my experience and it was frightening.

1998 i slept inside my 1984 Subaru Hatchback Wagon one bight when i couldnt find a place to sleep and had one friend with me. We fell asleep around 12:30/1am and i woke around 6am. I had a difficult time gathering my awareness. All the windows were saturated with condensation to the point that it looked like it was sprayed with a water bottle as was the dashboard and the door panels. This was in the late spring but it was in the 50s that night. I had twitching in my hands and arms and felt like i couldnt get any air and started to panic. I had to shake my friend to wake him up whether from lack of sleep or oxygen deprivation is unknown. I opened the door and tried to stand up out of the car and found i was very badly cramping in my back and my legs felt unsteady. After a few breaths of the morning air i started to focus and i realized my eyes were blurred previously and had begun to focus. When i sat back in the car and took note of my surroundings i saw that all the windows and the sunroof were all closed. I think we came very close to not waking up though it may have been the body's effort to stay alive that caused the spasming muscles and the jolt awake in the first place. I hope this helps someone else. If you decide to sleep in your car, lower a window, better safe and cold or attacked by bugs than dead
Apart from the fact that this thread is a 5 1/2 year old zombie, examples of people frequently sleeping in closed up cars indicate that more likely than not you just had a panic attack. The fact that your friend apparently did not have similar symptoms supports that.
#19
Old 05-16-2017, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReviewFever View Post
I can only relate my experience and it was frightening.

1998 i slept inside my 1984 Subaru Hatchback Wagon one bight when i couldnt find a place to sleep and had one friend with me. We fell asleep around 12:30/1am and i woke around 6am. I had a difficult time gathering my awareness. All the windows were saturated with condensation to the point that it looked like it was sprayed with a water bottle as was the dashboard and the door panels. This was in the late spring but it was in the 50s that night. I had twitching in my hands and arms and felt like i couldnt get any air and started to panic. I had to shake my friend to wake him up whether from lack of sleep or oxygen deprivation is unknown. I opened the door and tried to stand up out of the car and found i was very badly cramping in my back and my legs felt unsteady. After a few breaths of the morning air i started to focus and i realized my eyes were blurred previously and had begun to focus. When i sat back in the car and took note of my surroundings i saw that all the windows and the sunroof were all closed. I think we came very close to not waking up though it may have been the body's effort to stay alive that caused the spasming muscles and the jolt awake in the first place. I hope this helps someone else. If you decide to sleep in your car, lower a window, better safe and cold or attacked by bugs than dead
Other than the condensation, you're describing my typical waking ritual.
#20
Old 05-16-2017, 11:34 AM
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You all do know that cars aren't completely sealed right?

Some quick Google-ing and I found this...
https://youtube.com/watch?v=Y2jS2dZoWCY


Virtually all cars have these to prevent your ears from popping when you slam the doors and all sorts of problems when the air bags go off.
#21
Old 05-16-2017, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScratchJustain'tGonnaHappen View Post
You all do know that cars aren't completely sealed right?
Since the majority of the posts in this thread have confirmed that cars lack hermetic seals the answer to your question should be obvious.
#22
Old 05-16-2017, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScratchJustain'tGonnaHappen View Post
You all do know that cars aren't completely sealed right?
Even if they were, you're going to have a hard time sleeping in a chamber with elevated CO2; carbon dioxide is very different from carbon monoxide.
#23
Old 05-16-2017, 02:25 PM
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This paper by researchers at Harvard University says that they measured three different cars and found there were between 1.0 and 3.0 air changes per hour when the cars were stationary with the windows closed. Exterior wind speed didn't affect this. So even in the worst case (1 change per hour), if you can make it through one hour in a closed car, you can survive there forever.
#24
Old 05-16-2017, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReviewFever View Post
I can only relate my experience and it was frightening.
Welcome to the SDMB, ReviewFever.

Sounds like you were sleeping off a drunk. Glad you didn't cause a collision.
#25
Old 05-16-2017, 09:10 PM
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I've done it many times.
#26
Old 11-17-2017, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReviewFever View Post
I can only relate my experience and it was frightening.

1998 i slept inside my 1984 Subaru Hatchback Wagon one bight when i couldnt find a place to sleep and had one friend with me. We fell asleep around 12:30/1am and i woke around 6am. I had a difficult time gathering my awareness. All the windows were saturated with condensation to the point that it looked like it was sprayed with a water bottle as was the dashboard and the door panels. This was in the late spring but it was in the 50s that night. I had twitching in my hands and arms and felt like i couldnt get any air and started to panic. I had to shake my friend to wake him up whether from lack of sleep or oxygen deprivation is unknown. I opened the door and tried to stand up out of the car and found i was very badly cramping in my back and my legs felt unsteady. After a few breaths of the morning air i started to focus and i realized my eyes were blurred previously and had begun to focus. When i sat back in the car and took note of my surroundings i saw that all the windows and the sunroof were all closed. I think we came very close to not waking up though it may have been the body's effort to stay alive that caused the spasming muscles and the jolt awake in the first place. I hope this helps someone else. If you decide to sleep in your car, lower a window, better safe and cold or attacked by bugs than dead
I've been searching for this subject and came across your post. I believe that what happened to you and your friend is exactly what happened to this couple in Brazil yesterday:

https://g1.globo.com/mt/mato-grosso/...us-em-mt.ghtml

It's in Portuguese, but I can summarize the news: a couple had had sex in a car, apparently in some renault model, they probably slept after, what is not uncommon. Police found both lying naked on the backseat on the next day (today), there was some blood spilled, but no sign of fight whatsoever, this blood is related to vasodilation, police says. The car was with engine off, but totally sealed (all windows closed). Police is still investigating if there were some poisonous gas leak, but CO2 suffocation is the bigger hypothesis for now.

As someone who sleeps in the car very often due to logistics (work far from home), but always alone, with the car's windows totally shut due to bugs and cold at night, I don't have to say that I'm in shock! If I were with a companion, I don't know if I would be here to write this.

Be glad that you and your friend haven't engaged in any activity inside the car that would have deprived you of oxigen even more (no homo).

Last edited by Balailo; 11-17-2017 at 05:44 PM.
#27
Old 11-17-2017, 06:04 PM
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Is there any explanation for the blood? CO2 kills by depriving the body of oxygen - the same as suffocating. There is nothing to cause blood loss.
#28
Old 11-17-2017, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balailo View Post
I've been searching for this subject and came across your post. I believe that what happened to you and your friend is exactly what happened to this couple in Brazil yesterday:.
What happened to the previous poster is he woke up confused and had a panic attack. His symptoms are those of a person jumping up after sleeping in an uncomfortable position for several hours. His other observations do not indicate anything out of the ordinary.

Determining what happened to this couple should be left to people who have more information than that given in a very early and very sparse article.
#29
Old 11-17-2017, 06:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balailo View Post
Be glad that you and your friend haven't engaged in any activity inside the car that would have deprived you of oxigen even more (no homo).
Moderator Note

Balailo, I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this sentence but "homo" is considered derogatory and should not be used here. No warning issued.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
#30
Old 11-17-2017, 06:48 PM
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An intriguing typo/autocorrect explanation awaits us. I think.
#31
Old 11-17-2017, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
An intriguing typo/autocorrect explanation awaits us. I think.
Or perhaps we've seen Balailo's first and last post.
#32
Old 11-17-2017, 08:46 PM
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When I moved from California to Ohio, yonks ago, I had one relative giving me candles to keep in the car in case I got stuck in the snow and several relatives arguing against using them because they could use up all the oxygen once snow had sealed up the car.

In Ohio, some of the neighbors said that if you're stuck in the snow, running the engine for heat can turn deadly if the snow covers your tailpipe. I never got stuck in the snow, at least not stuck enough that I was testing any of these claims. I did take the candles and keep them in the car for a couple of years. I think they melted one summer.
#33
Old 11-17-2017, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
An intriguing typo/autocorrect explanation awaits us. I think.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug K. View Post
Or perhaps we've seen Balailo's first and last post.
I think the man, like his news cite, is Brazilian. His English is OK not great. Who besides him knows what he meant?

Last edited by LSLGuy; 11-17-2017 at 10:23 PM.
#34
Old 11-17-2017, 10:38 PM
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I can't quite parse the entire sentence, but if we're confused about "no homo," that's a phrase that's been used for at least a decade meaning something like "but not in a gay way."
#35
Old 11-17-2017, 10:43 PM
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@Bob — Don’t our veins dilatate when we have too much CO2 in our blood? To the point of leaking blood sometimes (from the nose, i.e.)?

@LSLGuy — That my English is ok, but not great kind of hurts me, because I did the CPE test a few years ago and they gave me the diploma, thus, theoretically, my English should be ‘great’, but I guess I’m getting rusty again...

Regarding the ‘no homo’ expression, I thought that expression was widely used in the Anglosphere, as I keep seeing it everywhere, sorry if it’s not used anymore.

see the definition:
https://urbandictionary.com/defi...term=no%20homo
#36
Old 11-17-2017, 10:58 PM
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Your English is textbook clean and not artificial. Far better than my Brazilian Portuguese.

I was attempting to defend your unstylish use of idiom; that you're not a native speaker and shouldn't be judged by the strict standards usually applied to one.

Our standards here are pretty tight on offensive speech. We have an international membership and we pride ourselves on being understanding and open rather than rigid and mean-spirited. Sometimes that looks a little bit fussy to some, but the goal is to welcome everyone.

Welcome.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 11-17-2017 at 10:58 PM.
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