Three members of a Brampton, Ont., family died of suspected carbon poisoning Monday morning. The family had been using two portable propane heaters indoors to keep the house warm after their furnace broke, according to police.

Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas emitted when fossil fuels such as propane or kerosene are burned. Here are some key facts and tips on detecting carbon monoxide in your home:

The gas can be generated from any fuel-based home appliance.

“Carbon monoxide comes from the burning of various fuels -- propane, natural gas, wood burning appliances and gas barbeques,” Raynald Marchand, general manager at Canada Safety Council, told CTV News Channel.

Do not run generators or oil-based heaters in enclosed spaces. Marchand said a common mistake people make is bringing appliances meant for outdoor use inside their home.

Early warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Disorientation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Impaired motor functions

If exposed to low levels of the gas over a long period of time, you may experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Poor vision
  • Dizziness

Take precautions

All fuel-burning appliances and wood stoves should be professionally serviced.

“It's always important for equipment to be checked periodically and for it to be installed properly,” Marchand said.

Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on every level of a home, especially near bedrooms.

If a detector sounds, the building should be vacated, then residents of the home should call 911. The building should not be entered until an official has resolved the problem.

With files from The Canadian Press