By Jessica Guay

BRENTWOOD, Pa. (KDKA) – Local first responders are reminding residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide, after a Minnesota family of seven was killed by CO poisoning over the weekend.

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer that you don’t want in your home this Winter.

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“That’s the danger of carbon monoxide is the fact that it’s odorless, colorless, and tasteless, you don’t know and by the time you do know it may be too late,” said John Balkovec, Deputy Chief of Operations at Brentwood EMS.

The risk of CO poisoning increases when it’s cold outside and people are heating up their homes more. Balkovec explained why carbon monoxide build-up can poison those who breathe it in.

“It attaches to all the red blood cells and kills all the oxygen inside the body,” said Balkovec.

This holiday weekend, many people in Pennsylvanians will be cranking up the heat, throwing logs in the fireplace, or using gas burning devices like stoves and ovens for meals.

Balkovec said to remember that furnaces, fireplaces, stoves, ovens, water heaters, and any gas-burning devices could cause CO build up.

“Their furnaces not being serviced correctly seems to be a very big cause,” he said. “Cars, just warming a car up outside or in a garage isn’t good. Gas can cause carbon monoxide poisoning too. So, watching your pilot lights on your stove and everything, even your hot water tank, they are the causes I have seen my career that have caused people to have symptoms of carbon monoxide.”

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First responders say it’s critical to have working CO detectors in your home for the safety of you, your family, and your pets. They advise people to put fresh batteries in the detectors and test the alarm.

“You change the batteries on your smoke detector, you should make sure you change your batteries on your co detectors,” said Balkovec.

He said to get furnaces serviced and water heaters checked out because first responders don’t want there to be a terrible outcome if a CO detector starts beeping in your residence.

“First thing they should do is get out of the house and call 911, they need to get the fresh air that’s the biggest thing, fresh air is the biggest thing most important saving point is getting to oxygen,” he said.

Brentwood EMS had a call the day after Christmas last year where a car was running in a garage, and they took three people to the hospital just in time.

Even though it’s a silent killer, there are early symptoms to keep in mind.

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“If their alarms not working, being very tired, dizzy, just almost like flu-like symptoms but not nausea and vomiting right away that ends up being in the late symptom that comes out of it,” he said.