When it comes to maintenance of our cars, we Pakistanis are the least responsible people on this planet. We believe in fixing something after it fails/stops working only, and not before; a reactive approach rather than a proactive one. Often this habit can have devastating and lethal consequences for the people involved and hence my purpose of writing this article. This event happened recently with my Chacha (Uncle) in Lahore and has an important lesson for all of us.
My Chacha owns a Suzuki Khyber. The car needs substantial bodywork and the overall condition of the car is very unfortunate and it needs a lot of maintenance work. But like most of us, my Chacha had the same motto “Let it run while it can”. For a while, the exhaust and engine were making strange noises in his car, but he chose to ignore it instead of inspecting and getting it fixed.
On Sunday, he was returning home with his 3 children (all minors) from a function when the failure occurred. Somehow the entire engine-to-exhaust system malfunctioned and the exhaust was redirected inside the cabin. My Chacha was driving with his window down a bit, whereas all the others were closed. There was a build-up of exhaust gasses, notably carbon monoxide in the cabin.
Here I would like to mention that carbon monoxide is an odorless but highly poisonous gas. A leakage of carbon monoxide cannot be sensed/smelled, even if you are inhaling it. If inhaled, it rapidly binds with your red blood cells and start destroying them which results in suffocation, and if not taken care of immediately, could prove to be fatal. Click here to read more about carbon monoxide poisoning.
He was talking to his children during the ride, and suddenly they all became dizzy and quickly fainted. Due to the driver window down a bit, my Chacha did not get affected that much. The smallest child, his son, went into a fit with muscle spasms etc. Suddenly my Chacha had to cope with 3 children who were fighting for their lives in a critical condition.
Miraculously, a rescue 1122 car was refueling at a fuel station near him. Immediately he took his car there and explained the situation to the 1122 staff. The 1122 staff administered pure oxygen and performed necessary medical procedures to the children and rushed them to a nearby hospital. The children were admitted to ICU owing to their critical condition but thankfully regained consciousness after a while.
Things could have been much worse, had my Chacha rolled up his window as well while driving, or the rescue 1122 vehicle was not present there, or they were at a place far from any hospital etc. Thankfully, a fatal disaster was avoided owing to good luck only.
This serves as a reminder that we should keep our cars mechanically fit. The engine and exhaust noise that my Chacha ignored and paid no attention to could have very well taken the lives of everyone in that car. No fault/noise inside the car should be taken lightly and should be resolved at the earliest. It is my personal request to all, please properly maintain your cars according to the manual/schedule provided, as well as the earliest, should you sense any abnormality. Otherwise, your driving machine could easily transform into a killing machine.