An incident late last week in Des Moines is serving as a reminder of a nearly undetectable killer that can surface in a home, especially in the winter. Eight people — three adults and five children — were hospitalized Friday after being exposed to extremely high levels of carbon monoxide in their home.

Des Moines Fire Captain Steve Brown says C-O is a colorless and odorless gas and, in this case, was leaking from a faulty furnace. “People need to have their furnaces, fireplaces, hot water heaters, and gas-powered clothes driers inspected on an annual basis by a qualified technician just to make sure they’re working (properly),” Brown says.

In addition, Brown suggests installing a carbon monoxide detector. “It’s definitely something that can save somebody’s life,” Brown says. A C-O detector costs roughly 20 to 30 dollars. Brown says only one detector is needed to cover an entire home. “You want to place it where you have your gas operated appliances…so, in the furnace room, where your gas dryer is, those areas – so it will pick up that carbon monoxide,” Brown says.

The symptoms of C-O poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breathe. Paramedics who were sent to the home with the C-O leak last week in Des Moines were informed one resident had suffered a headache for four days. Brown said meter readings inside the home found C-O levels of 500 parts per million. The meter “alerts” at 25 parts per million and 1,200 parts per million in a home is considered “immediately dangerous to life and health.”