Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and toxic. It's called the "silent killer" in homes because some victims are not even aware that the deadly condition exists.

Homeowners must be concerned about unmaintained furnaces, water heaters and appliances that can produce the deadly gas. Other sources could include leaking chimneys, unvented kerosene or gas space heaters and even exhaust from cars operating in an attached garage.

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests the following to reduce exposure in the home:

  • Keep gas appliances properly adjusted
  • Install and use an exhaust fan vented to the outdoors over gas stoves
  • Open flues when fireplaces are in use
  • Do not idle car inside garage
  • Have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune-up central heating systems annually

There can be many symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning that can resemble other types of poisoning. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and feelings of weakness or fatigue are a few of the most common symptoms. Lower levels of exposure may be mistaken for the flu.

Roughly half the states have laws regarding carbon monoxide detectors in homes. Regardless of the requirements, what person would want to put their family, guests or themselves at risk for something so deadly? The devices can be purchased for as little as $20 and plugged into the wall like a night light.