Protecting yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning

(CNN) - It’s a hidden danger in our homes. known as the “silent killer.” Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas and every year, over 400 people die in the United States from accidental CO poisoning.

In these cold winter months, you could end up a victim if you don't take steps to keep your family safe.

If you lose electricity during severe winter weather, be careful using alternative sources of power or heat.

Carbon monoxide can build up in a home and can be life threatening.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning every year and almost 50,000 visit the emergency room.

The gas fumes can come from chimneys, portable generators, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood inside the home.

To protect yourself and family, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

Change the batteries every six months.

Make sure you have your heating system and any appliances fueled by gas, oil or coal checked by a licensed technician every year.

Don't leave a vehicle motor running in an enclosed space, or within 20 feet of a vent or window in your home.

Never run a generator or gasoline-powered engine inside, even if the windows or doors are open.

The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

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