Only one in 10 homes is protected by a carbon monoxide detector.
The American Red Cross reports that each year:
Carbon monoxide poisoning claims some 480 lives and sends another 15,200 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.
More than 200 people die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel-burning appliances in the home including furnaces, ranges, water heaters and area heaters.
Often, carbon monoxide can build up to lethal levels in just a few days. In one tragic instance that killed a family of five, The New York Times reported that some of the victims had complained of feeling faint days before they succumbed to the silent killer:
Capt. John Fetherston of the [Hazlet, New Jersey] police said two factors might have contributed to the buildup of the deadly fumes from the furnace, which emits carbon monoxide as it burns natural gas. A chimney coated with soot could have blocked the gas from escaping and a panel on the furnace was found ajar, which could have allowed the gas to seep through the house, he said.
Adequate ventilation in cold weather and using caution with heat sources can prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide gas and help reduce fire hazards.
More tips on home safety in cold weather are here: