Always warm your car or truck up outside the garage to avoid carbon monoxide buildup in your home.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a concern now with homes that are shut up tight against the winter cold.

West Des Moines Fire Marshal Mike Whitsel says warming your car up inside the garage is one thing that can expose you to carbon monoxide poisoning. He says it’s not safe even if you have the garage door open.

“Do not do that. Back the vehicle up, shut the garage door and let it run if you need to,” Whitsel says. He says warming the car up in the garage can allow the odorless, colorless gas to seep into your home and that can create levels that cause problems.

“It’s in your home at all times, it’s just at low enough levels that it may not be detected,” Whitsel says. “The safest way and the best way to protect yourself is to have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home.” He says the detectors should be placed outside sleeping rooms.

“If it is just one level, you want to make sure that you put that carbon monoxide detector outside of where you spend your time sleeping, outside of the bedrooms, that’s where you spend most of the day,” Whitsel says. The detectors are ready available at various stores. He feels the best carbon monoxide detectors are the ones with digital readouts that tell you the level it is registering.

Whitsel says you should be sure your furnace has been properly tuned up and checked, and also never use a fireplace if you haven’t had maintenance done on the chimney to ensure it is safe. And don’t run kerosene heaters or gas generators inside. Whitsel says you should call the fire department or utility company if your detector goes off. There is a chance your detector may not be working, and he says you need to be aware the symptoms.

“If you are experiencing carbon monoxide symptoms — the dizziness, the tiredness — and your detector hasn’t activated, you still need to do something about it,” according to Whitsel. He says in this case you should also call the fire department and have your home checked out to be sure there isn’t an issue.