Cold temperatures and bitter cold winds this weekend will drive people indoors and huddle next to their heaters to stay warm.

Chief Chris Newman with Missoula Rural Fire is taking the opportunity to warm residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

“Obviously, people need to heat their homes, and heaters are being asked to do more that they have in times before, and if those furnaces and heating devices haven’t been maintained or inspected, there’s a chance of failure and many times that means carbon monoxide.”

Newman explained carbon monoxide and the danger it poses inside a structure.

“Carbon monoxide is a gas that is odorless and colorless, and if it goes undetected it can catch people off guard,” he said. “When they’re asleep it can be especially dangerous because if it’s not detected, people can just never wake up.”

Newman said a carbon monoxide detector should be on every floor of a home, much like a smoke detector.

“Carbon monoxide detectors don’t last forever, so if you’ve had yours for more than five to seven years, purchase a new one, and they should especially be close to bedrooms. If you’re awake and you start feeling nausea or flu-like symptoms that could be a carbon monoxide issue.”

Newman said if the carbon monoxide detector goes off, or if the symptoms appear, leave the house immediately and call 9-1-1.

“Call 9-1-1 from outside your home and then do a head count to make sure that everyone got out safe and do not reenter the premises until emergency responders and make sure there is no carbon monoxide in the house.”

Carbon monoxide detectors are available at any home improvement store for about $20.