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How Ice Cream (Dry Ice) Nearly Killed This Lady

How Ice Cream (Dry Ice) Nearly Killed This Lady!

Find out HOW dry ice used to keep ice-cream cold nearly killed this lady in India, and WHY we must all be aware of this silent danger!

 

Claim : Ice Cream (Dry Ice) Nearly Killed This Lady!

People are sharing this long message about a lady who was nearly killed by dry ice used to keep her ice-cream cold.

It’s very long, so feel free to skip to the next section to find out what the facts really are!

A SOCIAL WARNING TEXT FROM INDIA

Ice Cream near death
_________

Dry ice kept with Naturals ice cream can be Fatal

Please do read it, won’t take much of a time but can help saving your loved and near ones.

I Nidhi Singal Gupta on 5th August evening, around 4pm went to Naturals ice cream parlour in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi, thinking I would send ice cream cartons to my brother – as a Raksha Bandhan gift.

 

Truth : Dry Ice Nearly Killed That Lady, But It Was Exceptional

This is one of the very few viral warnings on WhatsApp that turn out to be TRUE.

Here is what you need to know about her case and the dangers of dry ice.

Fact #1 : The Incident Happened In August 2017

The viral message has been circulating for some 5 years now. The incident happened on 5 August 2017.

Nidhi Singal Gupta bought 11 cartons (not packs) of ice-cream. To ensure that they won’t melt for the next 18 hours, the ice-cream parlour workers packed the ice-cream cartons with dry ice in her car boot.

After driving for some 10 minutes, she felt breathless and Fortunately, she was found and taken to the Moolchand Hospital, where she recovered and was discharged on the same day.

Fact #2 : Dry Ice Is Frozen Carbon Dioxide

Dry ice is basically frozen carbon dioxide. Unlike normal ice, it does not “melt”, but converts into carbon dioxide gas – a process called sublimation.

Dry ice is commonly used to keep ice-cream cold because it is colder than ice, and does not melt into water, or leave any residue.

Fact #3 : Dry Ice Can Cause Frostbite + Hypercapnia

Because dry ice is super cold (−78.5 °C / −109.2 °F), it can cause frostbite injury if improperly handled.

The outgassing of carbon dioxide can cause hypercapnia – abnormally elevated carbon dioxide in the blood, if it happens in an enclosed space.

Initially, people who suffer from hypercapnia may experience headache, confusion and disorientation – just like what Nidhi Singal Gupta experienced. But in extreme cases, it could potentially kill the person.

Because carbon dioxide is colourless and odourless, people are often not aware of the danger. Dry ice should be kept tightly sealed, or exposed to open air in a well-ventilated environment.

Fact #4 : The Dry Ice Was Left Inside Hot Car For An Hour

The ice-cream that Nidhi bought for her brother was stored in the car boot, together with dry ice. Normally, this would keep any outgassing carbon dioxide within the car boot.

However, Nidhi did not immediately drive to deliver the ice-cream. Instead, she left the ice-cream with the dry ice  in her car boot for an hour, before driving to her brother’s house.

In August 2017, the ambient temperature in New Delhi hit 38°C. The tremendous amount of carbon dioxide outgassing from dry ice stored in a hot car boot would likely have leaked into the car cabin itself.

That would explain why she felt disorientated and confused after driving just 10 minutes.

Fact #5 : Windows Were Closed + Air-Conditioning Was Turned On

The danger to Nidhi was compounded by the fact that all of the car windows were closed, and air-conditioning was turned on.

Carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen, and would normally “settle” to the bottom if undisturbed. However, air-conditioning in a sealed car would certainly have stirred and mixed it with the remaining air in the cabin.

This would have increased the carbon dioxide concentration in the air that she breathed in. And no fresh air was coming into the cabin, only carbon dioxide outgassing from the car boot.

Fact #6 : She Should Have Exited Her Car

While Nidhi credited sending her location to her husband as the act that saved her life, that’s not really true.

She could have saved her own life by simply exiting her car, or at least opening the door / windows. By remaining in the car, she continued to breathe in the CO2-heavy air.

If you are ever in the same situation, do NOT waste your time fiddling with your phone, or sending your location to anyone. STOP the vehicle and GET OUT right away.

Fact #7 : Dry Ice Has Killed / Almost Killed People

In August 2018, a 77 year-old woman in the state of Washington, United States, died from dry ice used to keep ice-cream cold.

Her son owned an ice-cream delivery service, and he kept four cooler boxes filled with dry ice for an upcoming delivery. His wife who didn’t know that, drove his car to send his mother home.

They were found a few blocks away several hours later, unconscious. By the time EMTs arrived, his mother was dead and his wife was in a critical condition.

In 2004, a man passed out in Alabama while driving with four large blocks of dry ice, which he bought to keep food cool in case of a power outage after Hurricane Ivan. His wife fortunately found him in time, and opened the car door.

Fact #8 : Dry Ice Is Safe, If Properly Handled

While this is a genuine case of a near-death experience with dry ice, it is generally safe to use dry ice to keep food products cold.

We must, however, understand the risks, and learn how to properly handle dry ice :

  • Do not handle large quantities of dry ice, unless you are properly trained.
  • Do not travel with large quantities of dry ice in your vehicle.
  • If you need to transport large quantities of dry ice, open your vehicle windows to ensure good ventilation.
  • If you feel disorientated while travelling with dry ice, immediately stop and exit the vehicle. If that’s not possible, open as many windows as you can.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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