As the weather gets cooler, heaters are turned on and the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning become relevant.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. Exposure to carbon monoxide usually doesn't cause any irritation until a person falls ill from it.
"The best detection is obviously to have a carbon monoxide detector in your house," said Greencastle Fire Chief Bill Newgent. "We do see an increase in calls this time of year with people wanting us to come over and check the CO levels that they may have."
Some symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure are flu-like symptoms with no fever -- nausea, vomiting, dizziness, irregular breathing, fatigue, weakness, drowsiness, headache and confusion. Another symptom is feeling better after leaving a particular structure, but feeling worse when returning to that structure.
"Basically, if they start feeling those signs and symptoms then they need to call 911 and ask for the fire department," Newgent said. "They can come out and help with the situation."
There are a variety of preventative measures people can take to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, in addition to purchasing a CO monitor.
"It's very important for people to have their furnaces serviced," Newgent said. "They want to make sure their filters are cleaned."
Some other tips include: Never warm up a motor vehicle in a garage, even with the door open; have vehicles checked for exhaust leaks; be sure all fuel burning sources such as gas, wood stoves, fire places and portable heaters are working properly and their flues or chimneys have been inspected; never burn charcoal inside; never use a gas range or oven for home heating; never use gasoline or diesel powered electric generators in an enclosed area and if the structure you are in is airtight and lacks ventilation, crack open a window for fresh air.
Newgent emphasized the importance of checking the flue of a woodburning stove.
"That has a two-fold benefit, because it also helps out with the chimney fires that we will have this year too, whenever it starts getting cool and with our CO responses," he said.
The most recent carbon monoxide related death in Putnam County was in 2008. An elderly man near Union Chapel died from exposure to the gas.
"The situation was that it was a furnace, and the furnace flue pipe was clogged so that the byproducts of the unburned gases were coming back into the house," Newgent said.
Parts of this story were taken from an Indiana State Police news release.