Often called the \u201csilent killer,\u201d carbon monoxide poisoning is a potentially deadly illness caused by carbon monoxide gas (CO). While death from this illness is rare \u2014 there are just over 400 cases per year in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control \u2014 your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is still significant. Learn more about identifying and preventing CO poisoning.\nThe Pittsburgh Poison Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222. Call to learn more about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.\nWhat Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?\nCarbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, which is what makes it so dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone can be exposed to the gas without knowing it, and it can be deadly if you breathe it in for a long period of time. CO poisoning can be fatal for anyone, but people with chronic health conditions, as well as the very young and very old, are more vulnerable to its effects.\nCO is produced any time fuel is burned. This includes many common items, such as furnaces, non-electric space heaters, stoves, water heaters, grills, fireplaces, cars and trucks, generators, small engines, and other machinery.\nWhat Are the Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?\nThe CDC explains that most signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu. If you\u2019re exposed to CO, you may experience:\n\nVomiting\nHeadaches\/dizziness\nConfusion\/irritability\nWeakness\nChest pain\n\nCarbon monoxide can also cause you to pass out. Exposure to CO while sleeping or passed out can be fatal. It\u2019s important to be aware of symptoms any time you\u2019re near equipment that burns fuel or fire, such as when your home furnace runs in the winter.\nThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides several tips for determining whether your symptoms are from carbon monoxide or the flu. You may have CO poisoning if you have flu-like symptoms and:\n\nMore than one person in your house gets sick on the same day\nYou feel better when you leave the building\nYou have symptoms during or right after starting your car or being around a running vehicle in a garage\nYour pets are sick, too (remember, human viruses cannot be transmitted to animals)\n\nPreventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning\nDespite the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, it is entirely preventable. The first step to preventing illness or death due to CO exposure is installing a carbon monoxide detector\/alarm in your home or business These may plug into the wall or be battery-operated, like your smoke alarm. The CDC recommends that you inspect your CO alarm to make sure it\u2019s working properly every time you adjust your clocks \u2014 twice per year.\nRELATED: How Asbestos Still Threatens Your Health\nFollow these additional tips from the CDC to keep you and your family safe from CO poisoning:\n\nHave a qualified professional inspect your furnace, water heater, and all gas-burning appliances every year.\nDon\u2019t use charcoal or gasoline-burning devices in or near your home.\nDon\u2019t use a stove or fireplace that isn\u2019t vented.\nDon\u2019t use a gas oven to heat your house.\nAlways open your garage door before starting your car. If your garage is attached to your house, never leave a car running inside it even if your garage door is open.\nUse generators and other outdoor fuel-burning devices at least 20 feet away from any window, door, or vent.\n\nIf you experience signs of CO poisoning or notice them in someone else:\n\nImmediately move to fresh air.\nTurn off all appliances\/devices.\nCall your local poison control center.\nIf you are already feeling very ill, call 911 or ask a non-exposed person to drive you to the nearest emergency department.\n\nThe Pittsburgh Poison Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222. Call to learn more about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.