Since winter weather in the US has increased a lot this week, residents are relying on heating systems to keep warm as temperatures have reached below freezing in some areas.

Texas has been hit in recent days with a powerful winter storm that is behind the deaths of at least one person, as well as leaving millions of customers without electricity. Major cities in the Midwest and Northeast are expected to receive one foot or more of snow by the end of Tuesday. Heavy snowstorms and freezing rain spread to the Great Lakes and New England, with the cold front running behind the system to bring heavy rain and potentially severe weather to the southeast and Florida.

It is during the extreme winter season when we rely on our heating system to run for hours that, according to a federal agency, increases the risk of accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.  (IStock)

It is during the extreme winter season when we rely on our heating system to run for hours that, according to a federal agency, increases the risk of accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. (IStock)

It is during the extreme winter season when we rely on our heating system to run for hours that, according to a federal agency, increases the risk of accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Each year, some 430 people in the US die from accidental CO poisoning, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which notes that CO accidental poisoning annually sends an estimated 50,000 people to the emergency room.

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CO is colorless, tasteless and odorless gas – making it a silent but deadly killer. Its fumes are produced by furnaces, kerosene heaters, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, portable generators and beyond. Those who breathe this gas, especially partially or completely in the end space, may faint, or even die.

The CDC states, “The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are asleep or who are drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning.”

To prevent CO poisoning as temperatures persist, the CDC suggests:

  • “Check or replace the battery in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery-backed CO detector, buy soon.”
  • “Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning equipment serviced every year by a qualified technician.”
  • “Keep debris and debris free of debris. Debris can block ventilation lines.”
  • “Never leave a motor driven in a vehicle parked in a garage or partially in an end location.”
  • “Never drive an automobile, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where the exhaust can enter the end zone.”
  • “Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.”
  • “Do not drive a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other end structure, even if doors or windows are open.”

Anyone who suspects CO poisoning should call 911 or a health care professional as soon as possible, the CDC advises.