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California makes carbon monoxide detectors mandatory starting July 1, 2011

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 30-06-2011

I did not know this, but tomorrow, a new California state law goes into effect, which requires all existing single family homes to install carbon monoxide alarms. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless poison that can only be detected with proper equipment. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommends that homeowners install an alarm in each bedroom. Under the new law, owners of all existing single-family homes containing an attached garage or a fossil fuel (fireplaces, natural gas or heating oil) must install at least one carbon monoxide alarm device within the house by July 1, 2011. Previous laws only required newly-constructed homes to have the alarms. Owners of multi-family leased or rental dwellings, such as apartment buildings, have until January 1, 2013 to comply with the law. The fine is $200.

Carbon monoxide is avoidable, but it is currently the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States.

Surveys show that most families will not comply with the law, with almost half waiting four months or longer. That’s not surprising to me since I hadn’t even heard about it until today. At the same time, I’m now acutely concerned. My kids’ bedroom is directly above a 3-car garage. This is exactly the type of situation that can be dangerous for sleeping kids or adults.

While the number of deaths annually is not huge (450), carbon monoxide poisoning does require more than 20,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. annually. California, where the new law takes place, cites 30 to 40 avoidable deaths annually from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The law requires at least one alarm per inhabitable floor, but guidelines suggest at least one per bedroom.

A wide variety of innovative products are available with an assortment of features to meet different needs. Readily available products range from combination smoke and CO units to basic battery-powered products and are available at the hardware store.

While adding the alarms, dads should also check smoke detectors for good batteries.