Any auto body repair shop has its share of potential hazards. That’s why collision repair professionals train extensively in how to not only employ the tools of our trade effectively, but also respect the dangers their careless uses can present.

After stumbling across this near-miss story out of Pocatello, Idaho, we’re especially reminded during this much cooler time of year to always be mindful of our HVAC systems and space heaters wherever we work, live, and play. Had a few variables in this incident unfolded differently, the results could have been tragic.

Fortunately, the man hospitalized Nov. 8 with carbon monoxide poisoning was reached in a timely fashion by Pocatello firefighters who arrived at the Samuel Street auto body repair shop along with paramedics carrying carbon monoxide detectors. The unidentified man had called 911 when he began feeling ill around 1 p.m.. Since carbon monoxide gas has no distinguishing taste, odor or color, he didn’t know that the auto body repair shop’s space heater had filled the building with leaking toxic fumes.

This is precisely why Pocatello Fire Department paramedics wear carbon monoxide detectors at all times. Their alarms sounded an alert immediately upon entering the auto body repair shop. The victim, who was working alone at the time, was taken by ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center. Firefighters later confirmed that his 911 dial and the paramedics’ detectors saved the man from almost certain poisoning.

We can all learn a lesson from this – not just those of us who work in auto body repair centers kept cozy by hard-working space heaters. Turning the heat on for long periods as temperatures drop increases the risk of an unnoticed carbon monoxide leak endangering you and your family. With winter upon us, make sure your home is watched over by a dependable carbon monoxide detector. It’s also a great idea to check your detector’s working order at least whenever change out your smoke detector’s batteries.

Stay warm and stay safe, Tucson.