ORANGE >> The fire marshal’s office has free carbon monoxide alarms available for Orange residents.

Carbon monoxide, CO, is a “silent killer” as it is an invisible, colorless, odorless gas that is created when fuels do not burn completely.

For a detector, contact the fire marshal’s office at 203-891-4711 or www.orangefiremarshal.com.

CO can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, fireplaces, blocked chimneys, or cars that are left running in garages.

Each year hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms from breathing CO include drowsiness, headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness, fatigue and nausea. High levels can cause severe illness or death within minutes.

Carbon monoxide attaches to hemoglobin, the part of the blood that carries oxygen to the brain, heart, and other vital organs. CO displaces the oxygen, thus depriving the body of this much needed element.

People who have mild or moderate problems with carbon monoxide often find that they feel sick while they spend time at home, but when going outside, begin to feel much better.

Then, shortly after returning home, the symptoms reoccur.

People who are most susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide are infants, the elderly, those who suffer from respiratory or heart disease, are anemic and pregnant women.

No one is immune to the effects of carbon monoxide.

Take these preventative measures.

• At the beginning of every heating season, be sure to have fuel burning equipment such as oil- or gas-fired furnaces, fireplaces and wood stoves inspected by certified technicians. Be sure appliance such as water heaters, oven ranges, and clothes dryers are working properly. Have flues and chimneys checked for any buildup of creosote or blockage of the chimney. Maintain all fuel-fired equipment as described by the manufacturer’s specifications.

• Never leave a car running in an attached garage. The vapors from the exhaust could increase the level of CO in a home in minutes.

• Never use a gas stove to heat a home in a power or heating equipment failure.

• Never use charcoal or propane grills indoors. It poses an extreme CO hazard, and a severe fire hazard. Space heaters should be placed at least 3 feet from any combustible object. Make sure that all fuel-fired space heaters are equipped with oxygen-depletion sensors. Do not use gasoline-powered equipment in enclosed areas of the home as they create a large amount of CO.

• Put a CO detector on every level of the home. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation when installing the alarms.

• If you suspect an increased level of carbon monoxide in a home, or the recommended CO alarms alarm sounds, first leave the building. Then, call 911.

First responders will investigate the possible presence of carbon monoxide. Calls made to a volunteer firehouse will delay the response of emergency personnel.

Get any suspected victim into fresh air immediately. If you can not get the victim out of the house, open all of the windows and doors to allow fresh air in.

Turn off any fuel-fired appliances. People exposed to elevated levels of CO should be taken to the closest hospital immediately. A simple blood test will determine the amount of CO in the bloodstream.