CALIFORNIA LEGISLATION STRENGTHENS CARBON MONOXIDE PROTECTION
New Mandates Require Alarms in Multi-Family Housing Units in 2013
by Deborah Hanson, director of external affairs, BRK Brands, Inc.
California is taking another stand against the “silent killer,” with new carbon monoxide (CO) legislation set to take effect statewide on January 1, 2013. At that time, California law requires owners of multi-family dwellings to install CO alarms in every unit of their properties. These requirements are the final phase of the state’s groundbreaking Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act.
Under the new law, owners of multi-family dwellings are required to install, repair, maintain and test CO devices in each of their properties’ units. The law applies to all multi-family residences, such as apartment buildings, that contain carbon monoxide sources or are situated within structures that contain one or more sources of this poisonous gas. CO sources may include, but are not limited to, heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances or cooking sources using coal, wood, petroleum products, or other fuels emitting CO as a by-product of combustion. Attached garages with doors, ductwork or ventilation shafts connected to a living space also are sources of CO.
The January deadline for these new requirements is of particular importance, as more CO deaths occur during the winter months than any other time of year, due in part to increased use of fuel-burning sources to heat homes, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
CO laws coupled with education and awareness will help reduce the number of accidental poisonings from this silent killer. According to the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the number one cause of accidental poisoning in the U.S. Over-exposure to this colorless, odorless gas leads to approximately 450 deaths and more than 20,000 emergency room visits each year. The California Air Resources Board attributes 30-40 avoidable deaths annually statewide from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.
Diagnosis of CO poisoning can be difficult because symptoms mimic those of many other illnesses and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, weakness, chest pain and vomiting. In more severe poisoning cases, people may experience disorientation or unconsciousness, or suffer long-term neurological disabilities, cardio respiratory failure or death.
Added Protection for Tenants:
The following is an overview of the new regulations:
- Owners of multi-family leased/rental dwellings (i.e. apartment buildings) are required to install, repair, maintain and test the CO devices, pursuant to Civil Code 1954, which allows them to enter the unit with 24-hour notice. The CO device must be operable at the time the tenant takes possession of the unit.
- CO alarms must have a distinct audible sound. If the alarm is a combination smoke/fire and CO detector, the alarm must have separate distinct audible sounds for each function.
- CO alarms may be either battery powered or plug-in/hard-wired with battery back-up.
As the most trusted and recognized brand name in home safety, First Alert is committed to educating the public about the dangers of fire and CO poisoning. For additional information on carbon monoxide safety, visit http://www.firstalert.com/.
More information on the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act can be found on the Office of the State Fire Marshal website, at http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/.