Carbon Monoxide Alarms Save Lives

As of July 1, 2011, California homeowners are required to install carbon monoxide detectors in all single-family homes with an attached garage, fireplace or a fossil fuel-burning heater or appliance. Nationwide, carbon monoxide poisoning claims about 480 lives every year and sends another 20,000 people to the hospital.

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer” says El Cerrito/Kensington Fire Marshal Michael Pigoni.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. If the appliances that burns the fuel are properly used and maintained, the amount of CO produced is generally not hazardous. However, improper use of appliances can result in deadly levels of CO. Hundreds of people die every year from CO poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances. Even more die from the CO produced by idling cars.

Even though the detectors will alert residents to the presence of CO, people need to know the symptoms of CO poisoning so they can act quickly and early,” said Pigoni. "At moderate levels of CO, the symptoms include severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, fainting and mental confusion. Many of these same symptoms are milder at lower levels of CO."

Heaters, fireplaces, furnaces and many other types of appliances and cooking devices produce the colorless, odorless gas. “Having a detector is a very small investment that can protect the lives of the people you love, “ said Fire Marshal Pigoni.

Individual homeowners, multi-family leased and rental dwellings all are required to comply with the CO detector law. For more information on the law and CO detectors, residents can contact the Building Division or go to the National Fire Protection Association's website.

The Fire Department will assist elderly residents (must be 65 or over) and disabled persons with the installation of smoke detectors.  We do not install carbon monoxide alarms.

Tips to prevent CO poisoning:

  • Don’t use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
  • Don’t idle the car in the garage, even if the outside door is open.
  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors.
  • Don’t ignore symptoms, especially if more than one person is feeling them.
  • Have your fuel-burning appliances regularly serviced by a professional.