New Act will Prevent 'Silent Killer' in Our Homes

The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 goes into effect July 1, requiring installation in homes so it will not claim more victims.

According to the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States.  The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that carbon monoxide – the “silent killer” – kills approximately 500 people each year and injures another 20,000 people nationwide.

Carbon monoxide is emitted in small amounts from heaters, fireplaces, furnaces and other appliances, but, if working improperly, those appliances can slowly and subtly produce toxic amounts. 

Depending on the exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning can have either short term or long term effect and can include mild acute poisoning such as lightheadedness, confusion, headaches, vertigo, and flu-like effects; larger exposures can lead to significant toxicity of the central nervous system and heart, and even death.

Being colorless, odorless, tasteless and initially non-irritating, it is very difficult for people to detect.  To prevent such tragic consequences, California signed into law The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 (SB 183) in May 2010. 

Beginning July 1, this law will go into effect, requiring homeowners to install carbon monoxide detector in every "dwelling unit intended for human occupancy."  

The applicable time periods are as follows:

  1. All existing single family homes with fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage must install the CO detectors by July 1.
  2. Owners of multi-family leased or rental dwellings, such as apartment buildings, must install the co detectors by January 1, 2013.  

The following language comes packaged with carbon monoxide (CO) detectors:

“For minimum security, a CO Alarm should be centrally located outside of each separate sleeping area n the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.  The Alarm should be located at least 6 inches (152mm) from all exterior walls and at least 3 feet (0.9 meters) from supply or return vents.”  

Noncompliance can be punishable by a maximum of $200 for each offene if the owner fails to correct the problem 30 days after receiving notice to correct. 

Currently, only 10 percent off households have the device, which typically costs $20-$30, is easy to install and can be found in most home improvement and hardware stores.   

Similar to, but not the same as the smoke detectors, this is a small investment that really can help save your life and the lives of your loved ones!  

For Home Sellers and Buyers - The Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement has been updated to require sellers to disclose whether there are Carbon Monoxide Device(s) in the property. 

For more information on carbon monoxide, how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, CO poisoning symptoms and safety guidelines, please click for Information on Carbon Monoxide on CA Fire website  or visit the CAL FIRE Web site at www.fire.ca.gov  

(*) Disclaimer - The article is intended to provide general information on the subject.  Readers who require specific advice should consult experts in the area of interest.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Edwin Drake December 31, 2011 at 09:14 AM
Steve B is right: 500 deaths a year across the United States is a crazy small amount of chance. Just check your heaters and stoves and flues and make sure everything is in proper working order. That's better advice than installing these battery dependent, fear mongering, misguided, trade-group promoted, hockey pucks. Seriously, if you're worried about CO poisoning then call out the HVAC people and have them look over your home. That's money better spent.
Sylvia Barry December 31, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Hi Edwin - Here is a recent article about a 'Close Call Serves as Carbon Monoxide Lesson'. I personally would rather spend $30+/- for another layer of protection. My family is too important to me. http://novato.patch.com/articles/close-call-serves-as-carbon-monoxide-lesson On another note, one of my San Rafael listings just had a resale inspection by City of San Rafael Building department. The only item they called out is a missing CO2 detector which my client will need to install prior to close of escrow.
Andrew randolph November 13, 2012 at 12:21 AM
thanks for this, amazing how the simplest of things can help so much
Sylvia Barry November 13, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Novato Fire District announced week of November 11-17 is Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. Please read NFD's article stressing the importance of CO2 Detector and what to do when you suspect there is danger of CO2 poisoning: http://novato.patch.com/announcements/carbon-monoxide-awareness-week
Sara November 13, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Regarding false positives: It is important to maintain your alarm! Many of the fire department's false alarms are actually the detector working as it should, but the homeowner hasn't read up on how to actually own the unit. Older ones have collection cartridges that need to be aired out every few months & can beep on low battery. Newer ones have a code they flash on alarm. That code can tell you if the alarm is because your family is in danger or the unit needs some sort of maintenance. Finally, it's important (and responsible) to know what can cause triggers. Hydrogen Sulfide comes to mind (esp. if you are on well water), but so do false triggers such as alcohol burners (think buffet table heat cans). Attached garages or idling too close to the house can also produce transitory levels high enough to trigger the alarm that dissipate before the FD arrives. I guess the question comes down to your conscience: could you live with the chance that someone you love died because you wouldn't put in a $35 alarm and learn how to use & maintain it?


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