Veronica B.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can catch people off guard or in their sleep.

Over 400 people in the U.S. perish from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 20,000 visit the emergency department, and more than 4,000 others are still hospitalized.

This "invisible killer" is made by burning fuel in automobiles or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, mobile generators or furnaces. After the gas builds up in enclosed spaces, people or animals who breathe it could be poisoned. Ventilation does not guarantee safety.

Everyone can be at risk. The CDC says babies, the elderly, and people with chronic heart problems, nausea or breathing problems are somewhat more prone to illness or death, but carbon monoxide does not discriminate.

Winter could be a prime moment to get carbon monoxide poisoning as individuals turn to their heating system and mistakenly heat their cars as the weather turns colder, it's important to take additional precautions.

The National Safety Council urges you put in a battery-operated or battery copy carbon dioxide detectors in the hall near every separate sleeping area in your property. Check or replace the battery when you change time on your clocks each spring and fall and replace the sensor every five years.

The CDC Provides these additional tips:

· Have your furnace and water heater along with some additional gas or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician each year

· Do not use portable flameless chemical replacements inside

· Have your chimney cleaned and checked every year, and Be Sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a flame and well after the flame has been extinguished

· Never use a gas oven to heat your house

· Never use a generator inside Your House, basement or garage or much less than 20 ft from any window, door or port; deadly levels of carbon dioxide can be produced in only minutes, even if windows and doors are available

· Never run a car in a garage That's attached to a house, even with the garage door open; always open the door into a detached garage door to let in fresh air whenever you operate an automobile inside

· The U.S. Fire Administration has assembled materials on the risks of carbon dioxide, including a list of carbon monoxide poisoning signs.

· Severity changes dependent on the level of carbon dioxide and duration of exposure. Mild symptoms sometimes are mistaken for flu.

Low to Medium carbon monoxide poisoning is characterized by:

· Headache

· Fatigue

· Shortness of breath

· Nausea

· Dizziness

High-level carbon monoxide poisoning results in:

· Mental confusion

· Vomiting

· Loss of muscular coordination

· Loss of consciousness

· Death

If you think you are having some of the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, then go outside and get fresh air. You could drop consciousness and die if you remain in the house.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that you need to never dismiss a carbon monoxide alarm, nor try to get the source of the petrol. Rather, follow these measures: