BOISE -- Carbon monoxide is often referred to as 'the silent killer' because it is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas. However, there are ways to protect your family from its effects.

The U.S. Fire Administration says each year in America, more than 150 people die from accidental, non-fire related, carbon monoxide poisoning.

You don't know what's going on -- you've got to have a detector to figure it out, said Captain Wayne Kingslien with the Nampa FireDepartment.

Kingslien says carbon monoxide detectors are key to preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.

You're advised to place detectors near each sleeping area of a home and on every level. In addition, like smoke detectors, batteries should be checked at least twice a year.

So if that goes off, we want people to call the fire department. So we can come out and do a more involved investigation, said Kingslien.

Sources of carbon monoxide include fuel-fired appliances, such as furnaces, dryers, stoves, and water heaters. Generators, fireplaces, wood stoves, cars and charcoal grills also generate carbon monoxide.

The danger occurs when the sources of carbon monoxide are not properly ventilated in your home or if the appliances are in need of repair. Kinsglien says appliances should be checked by professional technicians at least once a year.

Natural gas, when it burns, should have a nice clean little blue flame. If you're seeing an orange flame or an uneven burn in your furnace. You know you look through the little grate and you see the little fire in there. If you see something that doesn't look right, that's the time to bring in the professionals and have them take a look at it, said Kingslien.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.

So a lot of times people think they've got the flu, but maybe it's an issue with an heating appliance or a cooking appliance in their house, said Kingslien.

Twenty-five states have statutes that require carbon monoxide detectors in certain residential buildings, according to the National Conferences of State Legislatures. There are no state laws in Idaho requiring carbon monoxide detectors in any building or home.

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