Rules tightened on carbon monoxide detectors in homes

DOWNEY - A California law passed in May 2010 requires all single-family homes with an attached garage, or appliances that burn fuels like gas, coal or wood, to have carbon monoxide detectors by July 1, 2011.Multi-family dwellings, such as apartment buildings or condominiums, have until Jan. 1, 2013 to comply with the law. The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (SB 183), written by Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), is intended to prevent the 30-40 accidental annual deaths and hundreds of "avoidable" emergency room visits and hospitalizations in California due to carbon monoxide poisoning. "It's likely these were exposures to leaky or faulty equipment in homes and on boats," said Dimitri Stanich, public information officer with the California Air Resources Board. When appliances such as water heaters or gas stoves burn their fuel, one of the byproducts of combustion is carbon monoxide gas. It's colorless, odorless and is toxic to humans and animals in high concentrations. The molecule binds to an area on red blood cells that normally carries oxygen, essentially suffocating the body's organs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the symptoms of exposure to carbon monoxide include nausea, headaches, chest pain, confusion and/or unconsciousness, followed by death. Statistics show more than 400 Americans die of unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year, while about 4,000 are hospitalized. A recent survey by CalFIRE found that nine out of 10 California households do not have a carbon monoxide detector. Prices for carbon monoxide detectors at several local "home center" stores ranged from less than $20 to more than $100. According to the California State Fire Marshal's Office, the detectors should be installed according to manufacturers' instructions, generally outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Carbon monoxide detectors are available in battery-powered, hardwired or plug-in models and must have a battery backup feature. If the carbon monoxide detector is a combination carbon monoxide/smoke detector, it must sound an alarm that is different than the smoke alarm and have an "approved by the California State Fire Marshal" stamp on the unit. A list of approved detectors can be found at Scroll down to the "Hot Topics" section and click on "Carbon Monoxide Information and Approved Devices." -Contributed by Downey Fire Department

********** Published: July 7, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 12