Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a tasteless, colorless, odorless gas produced by burning fuel. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential CO source. When appliances are kept in good working condition, they produce little CO. Improperly operating appliances can produce fatal CO concentrations. Likewise, using charcoal indoors or running a car in a closed garage can cause CO poisoning.
What are the Symptoms of CO Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide can kill you. The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without fever). They include: dizziness, nausea, fatigue, irregular breathing, and headache. If you have any of these symptoms, and if you feel better when you go outside your home and symptoms reappear once you’re back inside, you may have CO poisoning.
What are the Requirements for CO Detectors?
California Senate Bill 183 requires CO alarms in all new and existing single and multifamily homes. CO alarms for existing single family homes are required at this time and will be required for multifamily homes as of January 2013. For new construction and remodel requirements, contact the Huntington Beach Department of Planning and Building at (714)536-5271.
For existing buildings the requirements include:
- CO alarms are required in every home or bedroom within which gas or wood burning appliances are installed and in homes that have attached garages.
- CO alarms may be plug in or battery operated models.
- CO alarms are required to be approved by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
- CO alarms are required on every level of a home, including basements.
- CO alarms are required outside of each home sleeping areas in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
- Combined smoke and CO alarms are allowed and are required to be approved by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
- CO alarms are required to be installed according to the manufacturer's installation instructions.
What can you do?
- Check your CO detector for proper function according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Make sure appliances are installed according to the manufacturer's instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals.
- Have your heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually.
- Follow manufacturer's directions for safe operation.
- Examine vents and chimneys regularly for improper connections, visible rust, or stains.
- Look for problems that could indicate improper appliance operation, such as:
o Decreasing hot water supply
o Inability of furnace to heat house or runs constantly
o Sooting, especially on appliances
o Unfamiliar or burning odor
CO detectors approved by the Office of the State Fire Marshal can be found here.
For information about Fire Department education programs, please see Safety Education.