Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Alarms

Smoke Alarms

Approximately two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Since most fatal fires occur at night, it's essential that every home has working smoke alarms to provide an early warning. Working smoke alarms increase the chance of surviving a home fire by 50%.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

A properly installed and maintained Carbon Monoxide (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
  • Headaches
  • Mottled Colored Skin
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Sudden Onset of Lethargy

If you or anyone in your home experience such symptoms, immediately get out of the house and into fresh air, and call 911.

Deaths Caused by Carbon Monoxide

On average, 30 to 40 people die annually in California from exposure to Carbon Monoxide (CO) gas. 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. 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act

As with residential smoke alarms, the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (SB 183) also requires that a home seller include in their transfer disclosure statements whether a CO alarm is installed as required or is absent at time of sale. As of January 1, 2013, all other dwellings (hotels, motels, multi-family dwellings) must have an approved CO alarm installed. Even those that are not being sold will be required to have them, just like smoke alarms.


How do you know if you need a CO alarm?  All housing units regardless of ownership or use shall have a CO Alarm installed if any of the following exists: 

  • Any gas fueled appliances such as a gas stove, gas furnace, gas fireplace, gas water heater, etc.
  • An attached garage (even if there are no gas appliances in the house)
  • A fireplace (even if it only burns wood, pellets, or any other material)

Any rental dwelling that meets this criteria - this means that as the owner a house, condo, or townhouse that you rent to another human being - is required to have CO alarms installed.