It has no taste, no smell and cannot be seen by the naked eye.

It kills an average of 450 people per year with anywhere between 20,000 to 50,000 made sick from it, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Carbon monoxide.

This time of year when we run our furnaces and heaters, the possibility of a carbon monoxide leak happening increases.

"It is more of an issue in the winter," Weber Refrigeration owner Mike Weber said. "Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless and the symptoms are difficult to diagnose because it could look like the common cold but it's a carbon monoxide leak slowly poisoning you."

One of the key fighters of carbon monoxide poisoning both Weber and Dodge City Fire Chief Robert Heinz agree on is carbon monoxide detectors.

"The location of the carbon monoxide detector in the house isn't critical just as long as there is one," Weber said. "Even the smallest leak will be detected. I would follow the manufacturers directions on whatever detector you buy in regards to testing the unit and battery changing time frames."

If a leak is possibly taking place, Heinz and Weber say to get out of the structure immediately.

"We would then use a gas monitor to test the structure for any leak," Heinz said. "We then get Black Hills Energy involved to determine the location of the leak before we start any ventilation.

"It is not just homes but also commercial businesses that could be effected.

"Businesses with damage to their roof can have their flue pipe crushed and not allow the gas to escape like it should be.

"I also suggest having your heating unit serviced once a year as well as your ventilation pipes from the water heater."

Heinz also stated that carbon monoxide leaks take place on a regular basis.

"It's not uncommon this time of year," he said. "We get a lot of minor and early stage leaks."

Weber stated his crew had a carbon monoxide incident a couple of months ago with an elderly woman and her son.

"The son woke up with numbness to his tongue and some weakness," Weber said. "His mother was asleep and they called us in at around 8:30 a.m.

"When we got there around 9:15 a.m., the mother was still asleep and we found they had a leak but didn't have a detector.

"Another few hours and they could have died.

"The larger the leak the quicker the death rate, small leaks over time will leave you ill and could lead to death if not treated."

Heinz added to call Service-Guard or any A/C and heating repair service to check that burners are cleaned and units are working properly.

"I feel the best thing anyone can do is get a carbon monoxide detector," Weber said.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com