Summit County, CO- Kimberly Nicoletti, Summit Daily News

Carbon monoxide can be a silent killer.

Mark Martin, a 33-year-old Fairplay resident, died of carbon monoxide toxicity Oct. 10, possibly from running a generator in an attached closed garage during a power outage, said Park County Coroner Sharon Morris.

About once a year, Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson sees a death from carbon monoxide poisoning, she said. In 2003, Michael Duarte, a 37-year-old, died in the garage of his Dillon home from heating his garage with a gas heater while he worked with the doors closed.

About 200 people die nationwide every year from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with home fuel-burning heating equipment, said Susan Parachini, program manager for the state public health’s consumer protection division.

As winter arrives, state health officials urge residents to avoid exposure to carbon monoxide. The main precautions involve installing carbon monoxide detectors and making sure that fuel-burning appliances work properly.

Carbon monoxide can leak from faulty furnaces or fuel-fired heaters or get trapped inside by a blocked chimney or flue. Burning charcoal inside the house or running an automobile engine in an attached garage also will produce carbon monoxide in the home.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when any fuel is incompletely burned, including natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, gasoline and wood. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to flu-like illnesses and include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea and irregular breathing.