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Carbon Monoxide is Dangerous -- Here's How to Keep Yourself Safe

Carbon monoxide — the silent killer.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you. Even though the gas is invisible, you will feel symptoms of poisoning.

Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath. Extended exposure to carbon monoxide can even lead to death.

The scary part about carbon monoxide poisoning is that its effects may not be immediately noticeable. People who are sleeping or drunk will often die before any symptoms show.

To prevent this, Chief Ben Bengston with the South Trial Fire Department recommends having a carbon monoxide detector. A carbon monoxide detector senses the amount of oxygen in the air.

Carbon monoxide detector - CDC When the oxygen in the air declines by a predetermined point, it will make a loud alert to warn anyone within its vicinity. The product should not be confused with a smoke detector, which recognizes different particles in the air.

“You can have them near your garage, in your kitchen especially if you have gas appliances,” Bengston said, “and 100 percent they need to go in your bedrooms as well.”

Bengston recommends visiting a local hardware store to purchase a carbon monoxide detector — it may save your life!

Four hundred Americans on average will die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning that is not linked to fires each year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention finds. There are more than 20,000 emergency room visits from the odorless gas, as well as over 4,000 hospitalizations.

From 2010 to 2015, there were nearly 2,500 deaths attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning. Winter months report the highest fatalities of carbon monoxide poisoning , according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The government organization found that of the 393 deaths that were reported in 2015, 36 percent occurred in December, January or February. Fortunately, deaths by this odorless gas have been declining.

Regardless, accidental carbon monoxide poisoning has a substantial societal cost. The estimation is over $1 billion in direct hospital and lost earnings.

To prevent accidental death, there are best practices to follow with automobiles. It is imperative that the owner of a vehicle avoids running a car or truck inside a garage that is attached a house, whether the garage door is closed or open.

Having a mechanic check the exhaust system of a car or truck can also prevent needless deaths. A small leak in the exhaust system can lead to a carbon monoxide buildup inside the vehicle.