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Carbon monoxide detectors required by law in single-family homes

July 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you don't have a carbon-monoxide detector yet, it might be time to get a new one. A new law requiring the devices in single-family homes went into effect Friday. The detectors can be real life-savers.

Smoke detectors have been mandatory in residences for three decades, but now there's a new requirement for single-family homes in California, Carbon monoxide detectors.

Starting Friday, the new state building code is designed to protect you from carbon monoxide gas, which kills 500 people a year and sickens 20,000 others. It's dubbed the "silent killer."

"It's colorless, odorless, and tasteless. So unless you actually see visible smoke that often occurs with carbon monoxide, you won't know," said Ventura County Fire Captain Ron Oatman.

You can find the detectors at most hardware stores like Home Depot. They range in price from about $15 to $50. A lot of them come combined with smoke detectors.

"A lot of these are integrated with each other, so if you don't have just one that's going to go off, it's going to create all of them to go off at the same time, so that everyone's aware that there's a problem," said the Simi Valley Home Depot's Eric Murphy.

Although it's now the law, Oatman says it's more about educating people and saving lives.

"We don't have smoke detector police, or carbon monoxide police, we won't be going in peoples' homes. It's going to be an education. Hopefully people realize that this will be a benefit," said Oatman. "However, new building construction, apartments, hotels, stuff that actually requires an inspection, will actually be enforced."

Carbon monoxide poisoning is usually the result of improper use or malfunction of heating devices. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.

The sound from an activated detector is designed to warn you before you experience any of it.

"You still need to use common sense: things like not using a barbecue inside, not using your oven to heat your home, making sure you service all your equipment that produces heat," said Oatman.


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