The extremely cold temperatures the area has recently experienced have had many staying home, bundling up, and cranking up the heat.
For those who use alternative sources of heat, by choice or emergency, this has increased the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  
Anyone using charcoal or wood heat, portable generators, stoves, lanterns or gas ranges, among other methods, to warm up expose themselves to the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 400 deaths and approximately 50,000 emergency room visits each year as a result of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.  
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas found in the fumes produced by many alternative sources of power and heat.  CO can cause sudden illness and death when it builds up in enclosed spaces.  
As people breathe in the CO, their bodies replace the oxygen in their blood with CO, causing illness, and in extreme cases, if not treated, death.  
People who are sleeping or who have been drinking are even more vulnerable to CO because they are not aware of their symptoms until it is too late.
 The CDC lists some of the most common symptoms of CO poisoning as: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.   Compounding the danger is the fact that these symptoms can be associated with other illnesses, delaying reactions of those involved.   If CO poisoning is suspected, get the victim to fresh air and seek medical attention immediately.
The CDC suggests having a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector near every sleeping area in a home, and checking them regularly, and offers the following tips to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
•Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
•Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
•Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
•Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
•Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.
•If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
For additional information about CO poisoning see the CDC website at, or the Iowa Poison Control Center website at  Always remember to call 911 in an emergency.