RECENT CALIFORNIA TRAGEDY SERVES AS TRAGIC REMINDER
OF THE IMPORTANCE OF CARBON MONOXIDE SAFETY
New Law Mandates CO Alarms in Residences in 2011
It's a deadly scenario that plays out across California this time every year: carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas, seeps out through a heater or appliance with terrible consequences to unsuspecting residents. Recently, a Monterey couple died from CO poisoning caused by a faulty gas heater.
Fortunately, a new law requiring CO alarms, set to be enacted throughout California in 2011, aims at preventing similar tragedies. Signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010, the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act requires that CO alarm devices be installed in all California’s existing single-family homes by July 1, 2011. Newly-constructed homes are required to have the alarms starting Jan. 1, 2011.
The law brings California in line with more than a dozen other states, including Oregon and Washington, enacting laws to protect people from CO poisoning.
Known as the Silent Killer, CO poisoning attacks more homes during the winter months than any other time of the year. The average number of deaths is highest in January, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 41 percent of home CO exposure occurs from December to February. As of late November, the San Diego Fire Department had received 195 CO-related calls this year – a 37 percent increase from 2009.
“Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect without the help of CO alarms,” said Deborah Hanson, director of external affairs at First Alert, a leader in residential fire and CO detection devices. “This law is greatly needed, and will help put an end to the senseless deaths and injuries Californians suffer due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning every year.”
California’s new law applies to residences that contain carbon monoxide sources or are situated within structures that contain one or more sources of this poisonous gas. CO sources may include, but are not limited to, heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances or cooking sources using coal, wood, petroleum products, or other fuels emitting CO as a by-product of combustion. Attached garages with doors, ductwork or ventilation shafts connected to a living space also are sources of CO.
According to the law, installed CO alarms must have a distinct audible sound. If the alarm is a combination smoke/fire and CO detector, the alarm must have separate distinct audible sounds for each function. The law also requires that CO alarms be battery powered or have battery back-up.
“During this time of year, people often turn to alternative heating sources, such as gas heaters or appliances, to stay warm,” Hanson said. “Unfortunately, without appropriate safety precautions in place, these devices greatly increase the risk of CO poisoning.”
Both colorless and odorless, CO is nearly impossible to detect without a sensing device and can cause symptoms such as nausea, headaches, dizziness, chest pain and vomiting that mimic those of many other illnesses, making it particularly difficult to diagnose. In severe poisoning cases, victims may experience disorientation, unconsciousness, long-term neurological disabilities, cardio respiratory failure or death.
More information on the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (Senate Bill 183) can be found on the California State Legislature website:leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0151-0200/sb_183_bill_20100507_chaptered.html.
As the most trusted and recognized brand name in home safety, First Alert is committed to educating the public about the dangers of fire and CO poisoning. For additional information on carbon monoxide safety, as well as a complete home safety checklist, visit firstalert.com/safety_checklist.php