How to Make Sure Your Water Heater Is Working Properly After Death of Iowa Family

Here are some simple ways to determine whether your home is at risk of toxic gases.

Now that it's been revealed that an American family of four likely died in Mexico as a result of inhaling toxic gases, many have been left wondering whether a hidden danger may be lurking in their own homes.

The Sharp family, of Iowa, may have died of carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of a leak in the water heater.

The tragedy is an important reminder for all, says Dave Hamilton, an instructor at The Morris County New Jersey Fire Academy.

He showed Inside Edition an easy way to test your water heater or furnace for gas leaks.

"Take a match out, light it, hold it next to it, blow it out, watch the smoke," he advises. "If the smoke gets sucked up, you've got a proper updraft. If the smoke was blowing back in it would be down drafting."

In the event of down drifting, he says, "you want to shut the water heater down, notify the utility company that you have a problem your water heater."

He said a blockage may be causing the issue, “and then you're gonna be getting carbon monoxide back in the home.”

It's also important to install carbon monoxide detectors in the right places, including bedrooms and the basement.

“You want it mounted in the area of the appliances, the furnace, the hot water heater,” he advises. “You should have one on every level, especially on a sleeping level. This is your only effective tool against carbon monoxide is having a CO alarm."

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, that's why it’s known as the silent killer.

Roughly 430 people die every year in America as a result of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.