Parks, AZ- Just recently that insidious, silent killer, carbon monoxide (CO), apparently claimed the life of one of our neighbors.

He loved to tinker with and restore cars and had taken some time to come up from Phoenix to his Parks home to do just that. He just wanted to have some quiet time, relax, kick back and do what he loved to do — in a closed garage, with engine running. He evidently had turned the ignition off at some point, but by that time, there had been enough accumulation of the deadly fumes to render him unconscious. Death soon followed and, because they had not heard from him for a while, his family called another neighbor and former employee for a welfare check. He went to the residence and discovered Dominic Todarello’s body.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office was notified and an investigation was under way. A preliminary report seemed to confirm the death as accidental and due to CO poisoning.

Because of this, and with the onset of colder weather and the use of heaters and furnaces, I felt it would not go amiss to remind everyone of some of the dangers of CO and impart some information that just might save someone’s life.

CO is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. A total of 1,500 people die annually due to accidental CO exposure, and an additional 10,000 seek medical attention.

CO is a flammable, colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas produced during incomplete combustion of fuel — natural gas, oil, coal, wood, kerosene, etc. During normal combustion, each atom of carbon in the burning fuel joins with two atoms of oxygen — forming a harmless gas called carbon dioxide. When there is a lack of oxygen to ensure complete combustion of the fuel, each atom of carbon links up with only one atom of oxygen — forming carbon monoxide gas.

According to Dr. Marc Bayer, medical director of the Connecticut Poison Control Center, carbon monoxide can cause neurological problems, learning disabilities and developmental trouble in children and can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth for women exposed during pregnancy.

Because of their smaller bodies, and faster metabolic rates, children require more oxygen for vital organs such as the brain and the heart.

I know that many of you are well aware of the precautions that should be taken to avoid CO poisoning; however, some important things to remember are: Never run a car, lawnmower, etc. in or near garage. Have one or two working CO alarms in the house. Placement is important: If you are installing only one CO detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends it be located near the sleeping area.Make sure your heating appliances are in good repair and chimneys and flues are clear. Poorly vented or leaking heaters or partially blocked flues can cause harmful levels of CO to build up in a home. This may go undetected for months and result in long-term health problems. Don’t guess! Have a licensed/bonded heater expert check your system regularly.

It was just a year ago that Parks resident Paul Tolar succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning while working on his quad in an enclosed garage. Don’t you be the next victim!