As the temperature drops, Panhandle residents are starting to use their heaters, maybe for the first time this season.
But others turn to alternative sources of heat, which can sometimes be dangerous.
They could be exposing themselves and their families to a deadly gas.
"In our business we call it the silent killer."
It’s called carbon monoxide and it kills thousands of people every year.
Marianna fire official Nicky Lovett most cases happen during the winter when people are trying to stay warm.
"A lot of times families who can't afford to pay there heating bill will turn the stove on the gas stove."
With the heat from the stove comes the deadly gas, carbon monoxide.
Misused appliances aren't the only dangers.
Jackson County Hospital’s Murray Baker says almost every heating product produces carbon monoxide.
"Space heaters are the most common thing someone needs a space heater and they put it in the house and the levels go up over night while they're sleep."
As carbon monoxide fills the air it eats up the oxygen the body needs to survive, baker says it attacks the muscles first.
"The lack of oxygen causes things like seizures, cardiac arrest, and death."
The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning isn't the only reason officials are concerned, baker says it's also dangerous because it's undetectable.
"It’s a colorless, odorless gas so you don't know you being exposed.”
According to baker carbons monoxide poisoning can be mistaken for the flu.
"The symptoms are vague, headache weakness nausea, and they can progress rapidly after that to being to being unconscious."
But protection is available.
Many home smoke detectors also detect carbon monoxide fumes.
Lovett says it's a necessity for every home.
"If you have propane or natural gas in your home you defiantly need a carbon monoxide detector."
Carbon monoxide smoke alarms generally cost more than a regular smoke alarm, but it could save your life.
For more tips on protecting your family from carbon monoxide poisoning go to the environmental protection agency's web site at www.epa.gov.
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