Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. Recently, the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (Senate Bill – SB 183) passed and all single-family homes with an attached garage or a fossil fuel source were required to install carbon monoxide detectors within the home by July 1, 2011. Owners of multi-unit leased or rental dwellings have until January 1, 2013 to comply with the new law.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning but did not realize there was now a law governing the installation of detectors in your home.
I was surprised to learn that hundreds of people die every year from inhaling carbon monoxide. After researching the sources and symptoms of CO poisoning, I think the lawmakers may be on to a good thing.
The recommendations for placement of the detectors include installing a CO detector on every floor of the house, and outside every bedroom within 15 feet of where a person is sleeping. The detectors plug into a wall electrical outlet, but you should also install batteries which can be changed twice a year when you change your clocks, to ensure they are operational in the event of a power failure.
Symptoms of CO Poisoning
• Low concentrations of CO: fatigue in healthy people, chest pain in people with heart disease, shortness of breath.
• Medium concentrations of CO: flu-like symptoms that disappear after you leave the house such as headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and blurred vision.
• Moderate concentrations of CO: angina (chest pain), impaired vision, reduced brain function, fainting.
• High concentrations of CO: death
Sources of CO in the Home
• House fire.
• Poorly maintained or unvented furnaces, boilers, stoves, hot water heathers or other fuel burning equipment.
• Using gas stoves or ovens to heat the home.
• Clogged chimneys or heating exhaust vents.
• Closed chimney flue.
• Kerosene or propane space heaters used indoors.
• Cars, generators or gas-powered tools used in a closed space.
As you can see, the sources of CO in the home come from the common everyday appliances we use, as well as cars and heating devices. Although most of us won’t bring a charcoal brazier into the house to cook with, the best way to reduce the amount of CO build-up in the home is to have appliances, chimneys, and furnaces serviced regularly.
If you think you have been exposed to CO in your home and/or are experiencing symptoms:
• Call 911.
• Get fresh air immediately by opening doors and windows, turn off combustion appliances, and leave the house.
• Do not re-enter the premises until cleared by emergency personnel.
• Go to an emergency room and tell the physician you may have been exposed to CO. They can do a blood test to see if any further treatment is warranted.
To find out more, you can visit www.fire.ca.gov/communications/communications_firesafety_carbonmonoxide.php or drop me a line at [email protected]. You can also call or text me directly at 310-259-7419.