(WHTM) — Winter is here and being mindful of possible leaks in home furnaces and boilers systems should be top of mind. An unknown leak has the possibility of leading to fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.

With the cold weather here, it’s important to check your heating systems for possible malfunctions. The CDC says carbon monoxide kills approximately 500 people in the U.S. each year. The gas is colorless and odorless, so it’s difficult to identify.

The CDC states that children, pregnant women, and the elderly or those with chronic illness are particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms can be non-specific and include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting, chest pain, or confusion. Other symptoms include a fast pulse, low blood pressure, or rapid breathing.

If someone shows signs of those symptoms, seeking medical attention is critical.

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Once in the care of health professionals, the patient may be put on oxygen right away. Then, they may be checked with a special blood test called carboxyhemoglobin. More advanced medical treatment may be needed.

As winter comes, it’s important to keep these warning signs in mind if carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, each year around 20,000 people go to the emergency room for carbon monoxide poisoning. It is particularly dangerous for children because they breathe faster and inhale more carbon monoxide per pound of body weight.

For more information from the AAP, click here.