Watch your tailpipe


Sometimes the things you don’t pay attention to may kill you. That turned out to be the case on Monday when I got a call from fellow employee Michelle Bentley who told me she had noticed the tailpipe on my car was clogged with snow. I had been driving it all morning and had not noticed it. I went downstairs and sure enough, it was packed with snow and ice, and Ethan helped me get it unclogged.

I wanted to share the experience with you, our readers, so that you can remember to pay attention to that the next time we get a heavy snowfall.

It happens when we back into a snow embankment. The snow goes up the exhaust pipe, and if you don’t notice it, you could die from carbon monoxide which is not detectable by smell.

Where people make a deadly mistake is when they assume that their exhaust will keep the snow melted. To a point it’s true, but when you’re stuck in deep and/or heavy snow, with a lot coming down, your exhaust can’t melt enough of it. Then the gasses will start coming in to your car. Many people have died this way.

So please, if you get stuck in the snow and you’re leaving your engine on for warmth, please get out every so often and make sure there’s room around your exhaust for it to vent. It also pays to keep a full tank of gas in your car. If you have to sit in it for a long period of time, such as on a clogged highway, you won’t run out of gas, and because space in your gas tank that is not filled with gas, can freeze up on you because of the condensation.

Since I giving snow tips, let me also urge you to clean every window thoroughly before you pull out of that parking space. I saw a car driving down the road with just the driver side windshield cleaned off. Talk about a peripheral nightmare. There is no way you can safely operate a vehicle in which any window is covered with ice or snow. I know it takes a little more work to scrape every window, but it could save your life.

I saw another little tip on TV the other day. When you are stuck in the snow and spinning your wheels, the best thing to use is your floor mats. Put them under your tires and they will help you out of the snowbank and onto the road.

But back to my original premise – always keep your exhaust pipe clear of snow and ice to protect you and your family. And thanks Michelle for paying attention. You might have saved my life.

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By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

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