Do you have a silent killer lurking in your home?
The Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District has installed carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in our fire stations to protect your firefighters. On July 1, 2011 California Senate Bill 183, also known as the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 went into effect for single family dwellings. Because our firefighters sleep in the fire stations we felt that it was prudent to install these life saving devices also.
As we install our CO detectors we want to remind you about this life saving device and the new law. California Senate Bill 183 was signed into law to regulate and promote the installation of Carbon Monoxide detectors. The law has a multi-year implementation which cover all residential housing units.
On average, 30 to 40 people die annually in California from exposure to this deadly gas, and according to the California Air Resources Board, another 100 to 200 die across the country each year. These are sobering facts, and history shows that Santa Cruz County is not immune to CO poisoning and deaths as a result of CO poisoning.
As with residential smoke alarms, SB 183 also requires that a home seller include in their transfer disclosure statements whether a CO detector is installed as required or is absent at time of sale. On or before, January 1, 2013, all other dwellings (hotels, motels, multi-family dwellings) must have an approved CO detector installed.
How do you know if you need a CO detector? All housing units regardless of ownership or use shall have a CO Detector installed if any of the following exists:
Any gas fueled appliances such as a gas stove, gas furnace, gas fireplace, gas water heater, etc.
A fireplace (even if it only burns wood, pellets, or any other material).
An attached garage (even if there are no gas appliances in the house)
ANY rental dwelling that meets the criteria listed above. This means that as the owner a house, condo, or townhouse that you rent to another human being, you are REQUIRED to install CO detectors.
As of January 1, 2013, ALL multi-family dwellings including multi-family dwellings that meet the criteria listed above will be required to have Carbon Monoxide detectors. Even those that are not being sold will be required to have them, just like smoke detectors.
A properly installed and maintained CO alarm, will sound when it detects a dangerous level of CO in the air. Carbon monoxide is silent and deadly gas. It is odorless, colorless and in high enough concentrations it can kill you in minutes. Carbon monoxide can cause unconsciousness with just a few breaths if there's enough of it in the air. However, what is more common is a chronic exposure to CO that will lead to dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle spasms, mottled colored skin, sudden onset of lethargy, and/or sleepiness. If you or anyone in your home experience such symptoms, immediately get out of the house and into fresh air, and call 911.
How can you avoid carbon monoxide poisoning?
- Install the alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. This will warn you if the CO level rises in any part of the house.
- Ensure the alarms are installed properly and clear of dust and debris and have working batteries.
- Make sure you have the detector installed high up in your home. One placed near the floor will only detect the gas when it has almost completely filled the room.
- Consider having your fuel-burning appliances inspected by a trained professional before every heating season.
- Don't idle the car in the garage. Even a short period of time is enough to fill a small space with CO gas.
- Never use a gas-powered engine or a charcoal grill indoors.
- Never ignore the symptoms of dizziness, nausea, headaches and sudden tiredness. If you are feeling them, you can lose consciousness and die. Get out of the house and into fresh air immediately and call 911.
What is the best carbon monoxide detector to use? Are there different kinds?
There is a variety of CO detectors available on the market. Look for a CO detector that has been UL listed and has a California State Fire Marshal’s listing. Regardless of manufacture, they all work the same and will provide the necessary protection for you and your family. While deciding which detector to purchase, you may find some designed to be plugged into a wall receptacle. These devices have been manufactured for the traveling public who want to have one with them while on the road.
Where do I install my new carbon monoxide detector?
With the exception of the traveling detectors, all CO detectors are required to be permanently affixed to the structure. When installing your CO detector, please follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
How often do carbon monoxide detectors need to be changed?
CO detectors are required to be replaced every 7 years. However, those that are battery powered, or have a battery back-up need to have their batteries changed at the same time that you change your smoke detector batteries. To help remember when to change your batteries, remember the phrase “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery”.