BEWARE OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING: Winter weather makes starting your vehicle a cold project and it’s tempting to let it warm up a bit before you head out.

We in the newsroom would like to pass along a few reminders from AAA East Central including the reminder to motorists that it is never safe to start or leave a vehicle running in an enclosed space, such as a garage. Vehicle exhaust contains poisonous carbon monoxide gas and can cause severe injury and even death if inhaled.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 400 Americans die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires, more than 50,000 people visit emergency rooms, and more than 4,000 others are hospitalized.

During a winter blast, AAA East Central recommends motorists:

— Never start or operate a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.

— Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice, or mud, which could cause carbon monoxide to leak into the vehicle.

— Never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running.

— Have a mechanic check the exhaust system of your car or truck every year. A small leak can lead to a build-up of carbon monoxide in your vehicle.

— Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up during the winter months.

— Unplug phone chargers and USB cables for digital devices as soon as you turn off your engine.

AAA East Central recommends homeowners and renters:

— Never use a gas range or oven as a heating source for your home and never use a charcoal grill, lantern or portable camping stove inside the home.

— Never run a generator, or any gasoline-powered engine inside an enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.

If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, consult a health care professional immediately or dial 911.

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