The colder weather brings with it a greater risk from an unseen hazard that can get into any dwelling: carbon monoxide poisoning.

Bruce Ruck, managing director of the New Jersey Poison Information & Education System at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, says carbon monoxide robs the brain of oxygen and it can kill.

"We urge everybody to have their chimneys and flues checked to make sure that there are no animals in it. Make sure that it's clean and the gases can escape," he said.

He also advises you to have a CO early-warning system and "make sure your batteries are operational in your carbon monoxide detectors. One of the problems sometimes is people remove the batteries; they start to chirp, the battery dies and they do not replace it. So you want to make sure that's done."

What should be your response if the CO Detector alarm goes off?

"You need to leave the home. You need to call your fire department or your gas company. They need to come out to check to make sure," Ruck said. "You should not wait in the home for them to come. Stand outside and wait outside."

Also, don't idle your vehicle inside a closed garage.

"As the weather gets cold, people — especially people who are driving around maybe with little babies in the car — they don't want to take the child out of the car ... so they pull the car in the garage, they leave the car running and before you know it, the carbon monoxide from the engine of the car builds up."

You can call New Jersey poison information at 800-222-1222 once you are safely outside.

Joe Cutter is the senior news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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