November 5-12 is CO (carbon monoxide) awareness week, according to Kira Huck with Safe Kids Missoula.

“Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, and it can’t be detected by humans without an alarm or a detector,” Huck said. “The most important thin we’re asking people to do is install a carbon monoxide alarm in their home, because we can’t detect it without it. We want to make sure that every home has one, and to also test it once a month to make sure it’s working.”

Huck said carbon monoxide gas can be deadly, especially to children and the elderly.

“Each year about 400 people are killed by unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning,” she said. “More than that, over 20,000 people end up going to the emergency room each year with carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms, so it is a pretty prevalent problem. It definitely increases in the winter, and it’s also of more concern for children, who are at greater risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Huck also provided more helpful tips. If you need to turn on your vehicle to warm it up, make sure to take it out of the garage right away. Even if the door is open, don’t leave it sitting in the garage while the engine is running. Check the vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace outside your home to make sure they’re clear of any snow or other debris. If the CO alarm sounds, leave the house immediately. Call 911 or the fire department after you are in a location with fresh air. Remain outside or by an open window until emergency personnel arrive.