Like so many California families, Quvina Coleman did not know about a year-old state law that requires single-family homes to have carbon monoxide detectors. Cal-Fire estimates that only one in 10 homes does.
"I don't, and I've heard lots of sad stories on the news of families that have perished because they didn't have one," said Coleman.
Carbon monoxide is known as the "silent killer" because the gas is odorless and colorless.
According to Cal-Fire, an average of nearly 500 people die nationwide every year of carbon monoxide poisoning. It also sends more than 20,000 to the emergency room. That's why the carbon monoxide detectors were mandated in California homes a year ago: to save lives.
November is also Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month because this is the time of year people start using heaters and don't know carbon monoxide is around them.
"In a lot of cases, they are fatal," said California State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover. "People don't recognize the symptoms. They think they have the flu, and they continuously subject themselves to high levels of carbon monoxide."
Starting January 1, 2013, multi-unit residences like condos and apartments will also be required to have carbon monoxide alarms installed.
They are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $20 to $40. Some local fire departments even give them out for free.
Authorities want to emphasize carbon monoxide detectors are not the same as smoke detectors.
It's recommended that one alarm be installed on every floor and outside each sleeping area.
Quvina Coleman is definitely doing some shopping this weekend. "I really need to pay attention to that and get one."