WI- Greg Simonis of Monona is a hands-on homeowner. When the basement needed work, Greg took on the job himself.

“I went and rented a gas operated saw, started using it in the basement.”

After a short time, Greg started feeling ill.

“I didn’t have much energy, and thought I’m probably just getting tired. It’s been physical labor down there, kinda hard.It just didn’t seem that important, it didn’t seem that big of a deal still.”

When he went back to work and nearly passed out, he knew this was a big deal.

“I went back outside, sat on a driveway, called my son again and said I’m pretty certain what I’ve got is carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Greg’s self diagnosis was right. Doctors at the hospital told him he was near the critical stage.

“It’s quite possible that another 5, 10 minutes downstairs in the basment with me breathing the fumes and I would not be sitting here talking to you right now.”

Greg now has a carbon monoxide detector in the basement.

Erin Dammen with Alliant Energy says Installing one is the best way to protect yourself.

“It is colorless and odorless so there would be no way to know if you didn’t have symptoms and didn’t have a detector.”

Furnaces and water heaters can leak carbon monoxide if they’re not vented.

“One of the best things you can do to help your appliances vent properly is keep them free of boxes or other things piled up in front of them.”

And furnace filters should be replaced or cleaned once a month. The CDC says 500 Americans die every year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Greg knows how close he came to being one of them and warns others to beware of this invisible killer.

“I’m actually very lucky.”

Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu; one reason many people don’t call for help until it’s too late.

Experts recommend getting your appliances checked out once a year for any malfunctions or leaks and checking the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector when you change your clocks, which we do next weekend.