As of January 1, 2013 all California apartments with an in-unit fossil-fuel powered appliance (fireplace, stove, furnace, water heater, etc.) or attached garage are required to have a carbon monoxide alarm installed. This requirement is from the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (Senate Bill 183) and was applicable to single-family homes as of July 1, 2011.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas and is a leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United State per the CDC. Unintentional, non-fire related CO poisoning results in approximately 15,000 emergency visits and 500 deaths nationwide per year. Of CO poisoning incidents from 2000 – 2009 77.6% occurred in a residential setting making safety at home a priority for reducing these incidents in the future. Earlier this month a family of four in Imperial Beach was hospitalized after a CO poisoning. No deaths were suffered, but this brings the point close to home for those in our part of the country.
A CO alarm is not a replacement for addressing the source of potential CO poisoning. The most effective way to avoid issues with CO is to ensure that appliances in your home are working properly and have them inspected regularly. To assist customers, SDG&E offers a free inspection service for gas powered appliances. An inspection can be requested online or by phone at 800-411-7343.
I was motivated to write this article after moving into an apartment earlier this month which has a gas dryer, gas fireplace, gas stove, and gas furnace all in-unit but was not equipped with a CO alarm as required. I imagine this is not uncommon across the county and wanted residents to be aware of the danger and the steps they can take to protect themselves. CO alarms are widely available at hardware and supply stores and cost less than $35 for full-feature models. Many of the models can simply be plugged into the wall and don’t require wiring or hardware to install.
Stay safe San Diego.