A 21-year-old man who had used a charcoal barbecue grill to heat his bedroom died in his sleep Wednesday night, the victim of an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning, the Watsonville Police Department reported.
Medics were called to the Jeanette Way home around 10:15 p.m. because the man wasn't breathing. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the police.
The man shared the bedroom—a detached room in the rear of the house—with another man, also 21. He survived and was taken to a local hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said.
A cold snap on the Central Coast has dropped overnight lows into the 30s for more than a week. Police reported that the two men had purchased a small charcoal-burning barbecue grill and were using it to heat their room.
Officers advised against using any heating source in a home that is not designed for that specfic purpose. Charcoal barbecues, propane heaters, un-vented gas heaters or gasoline powered machinery such as generators should never be used indoors.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas that can cause death within minutes.
A year ago, a man and woman were hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning in Watsonville. They were exposed to the gas when a wall heater in their apartment leaked. Sixteen other people who lived in the converted Victorian home on Marchant Street, were temporarily left homeless by the gas leak.
A 36-year-old woman and her two dogs died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a remote cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains, above Corralitos, in January 2011. Sheriff's deputies found a propane heater in the room where the bodies were discovered.
As of July 1, 2011, California law requires owners of single-family homes with attached garages or fossil fuel sources for heating to install carbon monoxide alarms in the home.
More information on carbon monoxide can be found online at http://www.fire.ca.gov/communications/communications_firesafety_carbonmonoxide.php.