It's important to know the symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO). Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed.The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, they include:HeadacheFatigueShortness of breathNauseaDizzinessHigh level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:Mental confusionVomitingLoss of muscular coordinationLoss of consciousnessUltimately deathCO poisoning can occur when a fuel-burning appliance or machine, such as a furnace, heater or generator, is not working or vented properly. Breathing in CO at high levels can be fatal.Learn what you can do to protect your family from the dangers of CO.Install and maintain CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of CO.Install CO alarms in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of your home.Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows and vents.Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.Winter fire factsHere are some facts about fires that are particularly important to know at this time of the year:Home fires occur more in winter than any other season.Half of all home heating fires occur in the months of December, January, and February.Heating equipment is involved in 1 in every 6 reported home fires and 1 in every 5 home fire deaths.Follow these heating tips to help prevent winter fires and to stay safe this winter season:Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from all heat sources including fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, space heaters or candles.Never use an oven to heat your home.Turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected each year by a professional.Space Heater:Keep anything that can burn, such as bedding, clothing and curtains, at least 3 feet awayfrom the heater.Make sure the heater has an automatic shut-off, so if it tips over, it shuts off.Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.Plug portable heaters directly into outlets and never into an extension cord or power strip.Only use portable heaters from a recognized testing laboratory.Fireplace:Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers or sparks jumping out.Do not burn paper in your fireplace.Put the fire out before you go to sleep or leave your home.Put ashes in a metal container with a lid, outside, at least 3 feet from your home.Wood stove:Make sure your wood stove is 3 feet from anything that can burn.Do not burn paper in your wood stove.Put the fire out before you go to sleep or leave your home.Have your chimney inspected and cleaned each year by a professional.Furnace:Have your furnace inspected each year.Keep anything that can burn away from the furnace.Kerosene Heater:Only use kerosene heaters from a recognized testing laboratory.Make sure the heater has an automatic shut-off, so if it tips over, it shuts off.Refuel your cooled heater outside.Portable generators are useful during winter storms, but if not used safely, they can cause injuries and death.Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows and vents.Make sure you have carbon monoxide alarms in your home.Do not use a generator in a wet area. This can cause shock or electrocution.Connect appliances to the generator with heavy-duty extension cords.Do not fuel your generator when it is running. Spilling gas on a hot engine can cause a fire.Bridget Weishaar is the CCVESA Public Education Chair for the Gamber &amp; Community Fire Company.