Customers walk by a display of carbon monoxide detectors in a Home Depot store in San Diego. — Howard Lipin / U-T Photo
A new law requires single-family homeowners to install carbon monoxide detectors in their home by July 1.
Prices for the monitors vary because of the different models and features. Some devices are battery operated and others are hardwired. Others feature a voice alarm or are a combination of smoke and carbon monoxide detector. The state fire marshal’s office has a list of approved devices and installation requirements on its website at http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/
What is carbon monoxide
Carbon is an oderless, colorless gas that is produced from furnaces, fireplaces, common household appliances, vehicles and other devices that burn fuels including propane, natural gas and oil.
Symptoms of poisoning
Headache, dizziness, loss of consciousness, nausea, weakness, chest pain and vomiting. (For tips on preventing poisoning go to www.fire.ca.gov)
Homeowners in California have less than two weeks to get a carbon monoxide detector installed in their homes. A new state law that goes into effect July 1 requires the devices to be installed in all single-family homes that have an attached garage, fireplace or a fosil-burning heater. The detectors of the odorless, colorless gas can be bought at hardware stores for anywhere from $20 to $90. The bill requires that devices sold are certified by the Office of State Fire Marshal.
The State Air Resources Board, a regulatory board at the California Environmental Protection Agency, estimates that carbon-monoxide poisoning causes 30 to 40 deaths every year in California. The board said inhalation of the gas has led to about 175 to 700 emergency room and hospital visits within the last three years in California. But not everyone has to install the detectors by July 1. Owners of other dwellings, such as hotels, apartments and dormitories, have until 2013 to comply. Homeowners who fail to install the devices by July 1 will receive a 30-day notice. If they fail to comply, they face a maximum fine of $200 for each offense.
Tonya Hoover, acting State Fire Marshall, said it will be difficult to enforce the law but that the focus should be in increasing awareness. “It will be challenging because they are a lot more homes than people able to verify,” Hoover said. “That’s why one should focus on education and outreach, informing people about the law and how to install the devices properly.”
California joins 24 other states, including New York, Florida, Illinois and Texas, in its effort to curb carbon-monoxide poisoning by mandating the use of detectors.
Jim Miguel, who owns several homes in Ocean Beach, Clairemont and Point Loma, said he has already installed carbon monoxide detectors in each of his homes. He says the detectors should not be mandated by the state. “I am for personal freedom of choice,” Miguel said. “It’s a smart choice to install detectors, but consumers should decide on their own.” Logan Heights resident Rebecca Gullans supports the law. Gullans said installing such a device is prudent because she has small children. But she’s concerned low-income families may not be able to afford the devices. “It seems like something they should subsidize,” Gullans said. Part-time county resident Loretta Alley, who owns three properties in Sun City Lincoln Hills near Sacramento, says the law is a great idea. “It’s the same as with smoke detectors, people resist it at first but look at how many lives it safes,” Alley said.