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Monday, January 30, 2012

Cold weather increases potential for Carbon Monoxide incidents in Homes

Each year in America, CO poisoning silently kills unprepared men, women and children from accidental non-fire related CO poisoning associated with consumer products. These products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces. As of July 1, 2011 California law requires homeowners to install carbon monoxide detectors in every California home; a move CAL FIRE officials say will save lives. State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover says “carbon monoxide is a silent killer, each year claiming the lives of an average of 480 people and sending more than 20,000 people to emergency rooms across the nation.”

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced from heaters, fireplaces, furnaces and many types of appliances and cooking devices. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. In the past, some people have used these things to heat homes or rooms and sadly, deaths have occurred from the Carbon Monoxide. “Having a CO detector is a small investment that really can help save your life and the lives of your family” said San Bernardino Unit Chief Tim McClelland.

It is important that you know the symptoms of CO poisoning. At moderate levels, you or your family can get severe headaches, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseated, or faint. You can die if these levels persist for a long enough time. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and mild headaches and may have longer term effects on your health. Since many of these symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses, you may not think that CO poisoning could be the cause.

Though previous laws only required newly-constructed homes to have CO alarms, the state’s new Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (Senate Bill 183) requires owners of all existing single-family homes with an attached garage or a fossil fuel source to install CO alarm devices within the home by July 1, 2011. Owners of multi-family leased or rental dwellings, such as apartment buildings, have until January 1, 2013 to comply with the law.

For additional information on how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning visit the CAL FIRE website at .