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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."

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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