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Beware of the dangers of carbon monoxide when off-roading

There are a few potential dangers that most people watch out for when off-roading. Things like vehicle safety, obstacles on the trails and similar mechanical problems are common issues that drivers usually know to pay attention to. However, other sources of harm are not given the same focus, and this could be to the detriment of motorists everywhere. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning has been a problem for people all across the world, and it can strike in any situation, whether you are off-roading or simply sleeping. While devices like carbon monoxide detectors can help in the home setting, you may have to go the extra mile to protect yourself from harm when in an automobile. 

The dangers of carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is a gas that can cause major damage to unsuspecting individuals. In areas where there is a high content of the compound in the air, red blood cells in the body absorb the gas instead of oxygen. As a result, necessary oxygen is not distributed to organs, wreaking havoc on basic functions. Additionally, too much carbon monoxide can damage tissues, which further intensifies the damage. 

Part of the reason carbon monoxide is so dangerous is because it is an odorless, colorless gas - making it extremely hard to recognize until you have already been exposed. That is part of the reason drivers must always be conscious of where they are off-roading and how the terrain may be affecting the automobile.

The gas can build up even in semi-enclosed spaces that individuals may have believed were safe. Because you can never be too careful about the ventilation, it is best to keep windows open whenever possible and to take regular breaks where you can relax in the fresh air away from a vehicle. 

How to avoid harm
Many issues arising from carbon monoxide poisoning in off-road driving come when the exhaust of a vehicle is blocked by mud or other debris. After mudding, be sure to take a short break just to check the exhaust. Similarly, if you are crossing a muddy area or waterway and find yourself stuck, open the windows and periodically check on the back of the vehicle. Should the exhaust become blocked, it could back up into the passenger compartment completely unbeknownst to you, which may lead to dangerous situations, so take breaks out in the fresh air and encourage passengers to do the same. 

Carbon monoxide can also be found in small gasoline stoves or lanterns. If you wind up camping during your off-roading adventure, be sure to check and see if your gear produces carbon monoxide and take steps to ensure these devices are used in open spaces where you won't be breathing in the gas. 

When working on truck or Jeep modifications, be sure not to restrict yourself to a closed garage or poorly ventilated space. If the car is running at any point, it is releasing carbon monoxide into the air and putting you at risk. 

Know the symptoms
One of the best ways to stay safe when off-road driving is by knowing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and being able to identify potentially harmful situations. Some of the most common symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness and general weakness. 

These signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can occasionally seem like other sicknesses, so it's important to have the notion in the back of your mind to avoid further harm. If you or a passenger starts experiencing any of these symptoms, do yourself a favor and stop driving. Pulling over the side of the trail, opening windows and getting out of the car could go a long way to feeling better. At this time you can also check out the exhaust on your off-road vehicle and see if there are any noticeable issues.