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Drivers face warm-up dilemma in cold weather

PHOENIX — With the recent cold weather, many Valley drivers are facing a dilemma before they head out in the morning.

Some want to get the car warmed up and the heater going so they don’t freeze on the way to work, but if they start the car to warm it up, then leave the garage door up, a criminal could steal the car or something out of the garage. If they leave the garage door down, you risk carbon monoxide fumes.

“We’ve been on calls where people have been overcome by carbon monoxide,” said Phoenix Fire Public Information Officer Larry Nunez. “They want to [start the car] to stay warm, but they don’t realize that they don’t have the proper ventilation to get rid of that carbon monoxide.”

Nunez said that drivers need to be wary of carbon dioxide.

“It’s invisible,” he said. “Sometimes, when we have fumes coming from a car, sometimes we can see them because they are coming from the warm engine to the outside atmosphere, which is cold. But that carbon dioxide can be dangerous.”

Nunez said that even a small amount of exposure to carbon dioxide could lead to a slight headache, but that it should go away once you are out in fresh air.

Leaving the garage door down and starting a car could be the solution to warming the car up without fear of it being stolen. Nunez said if you warm the car up for a “minute or two” with the door down, you shouldn’t have a problem.

“A few minutes is okay, so long as you get to the outside air.” he said, adding that once you get the garage door open and back the car out “you’ll have fresh air coming in.”