El Paso, TX – Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times

The cold weather’s arrival in the El Paso-Juárez region has led to a rash of carbon monoxide poisonings, including two deaths in Juárez, authorities said Monday.

Twelve people have been hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning this year in El Paso, Fire Department spokesman Lt. Mario E. Hernandez said.

The latest incident was at 9:15 a.m. Monday when an 87-year-old woman became ill in a home in the 2600 block of Hamilton in Central El Paso, firefighters said.

In 2004, there were five carbon monoxide deaths in El Paso but none this year.

In Juárez, there have been two deaths from carbon monoxide and 16 people who have become ill from the odorless gas this month, said Luz del Carmen Sosa, spokeswoman for the Juárez public safety office. Two people also died of hypothermia.

“The majority of victims were people who recently arrived (in Juárez) from the interior” of Mexico, Sosa said. “People who this is their first exposure to the cold weather found here on the border.”

Juárez authorities, who urge residents to be cautious, know residents without heaters will sometimes resort to the potentially deadly practice of lighting indoor fires, such as burning wood or cardboard in metal cans in an effort to keep warm, Sosa said.

In El Paso, most carbon monoxide calls are linked to faulty heaters, said fire officials who ask residents to use carbon monoxide detectors and have a professional inspect their heater.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include dizziness, nausea and weakness.