It can be tough to believe you can draw parallels between Florida and Iowa.

But recent hurricane events provided a sobering reminder whether you’re on the coast or landlocked: Carbon monoxide is dangerous for everyone. 

For Floridians and others left in the wake of devastating hurricanes, the danger is coming from generators that are keeping the power on. 

But for those of us in Iowa, there’s just as much risk from a furnace that hasn’t been maintained.

“Natural gas is a clean, safe fuel that keeps more than 70 million homes and business warm,” said Summer Wade, Operations Supervisor for the Newton area. “But it’s vital to make sure your heating system is working properly. Just like you take your car to the mechanic for oil changes and maintenance, do the same thing with your furnace; hire a professional for an annual tuneup.”

As the weather keeps getting colder, here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:

Hire a certified professional to perform an annual heating system inspection.

Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors and have them inspected regularly. That includes making sure their batteries are fresh.

Watch for signs of a carbon monoxide leak that can include:

Flu-like symptoms, including a scratchy throat, runny nose, headache, drowsiness or nausea

Frosted windows because of excessive humidity or a draft from the front of the furnace when it is not turned on

If you think you have a carbon monoxide leak, get out of your home immediately. Once you’re safe, call 911 or Black Hills Energy’s emergency service line: 800-694-8989 from your cell phone or nearby location.