Carbon monoxide can be a silent killer
For immediate release
SACRAMENTO - Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and having a working carbon monoxide detector is a small investment that can help save lives. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) urges residents to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning by installing a carbon monoxide detector and replacing batteries annually.
Californians are also urged to have gas appliances inspected annually to ensure they are working properly. More than half of all carbon monoxide poisoning deaths result from malfunctioning or improperly vented gas appliances in homes. The others come from a variety of combustion sources including: charcoal grills, automobile exhausts, space heaters, generators and fireplaces.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can strike wherever combustion occurs in enclosed areas, including: homes, recreational vehicles, cabins, tents and houseboats. Vigilance is the key to avoiding tragedy.
The State of California requires by law that every home with an attached garage, a fireplace or an appliance that burns kerosene, propane, heating oil, natural gas, etc., have an operational carbon-monoxide detector or alarm installed. Since the beginning of 2015, California law also requires community care facilities, including residential care facilities for the elderly and infirm, and public and family day care centers, to have at least one functioning carbon monoxide detector.
“Carbon monoxide deaths are preventable,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “Having the required alarms working properly and your gas appliances inspected are simple steps that will protect you and your family.”
Accidental deaths occur each year from carbon monoxide poisoning and several hundred Californians go to emergency rooms due to non-lethal exposures. Carbon monoxide inhibits the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to body tissues including vital organs such as the heart and brain. It is especially dangerous for young children and individuals with heart disease. Warning signs of exposure include headache, drowsiness, nausea and inability to concentrate; any person experiencing these symptoms should be immediately moved to a location with fresh air and be seen by a doctor in case treatment is needed.
ARB recommends the following:
- Properly use and maintain appliances that produce a flame such as gas stoves, ovens, furnaces and heaters;
- Never use gas ovens to heat the home;
- Never use kerosene and propane space heaters, charcoal grills, barbecues, or unvented gas logs indoors;
- Use caution when heating with propane appliances, older wall or floor gas furnaces and fireplaces;
- Obtain annual check-ups of all gas appliances by a qualified professional;
- Use State Fire Marshal approved carbon monoxide detectors that sound an alarm;
- Place emergency generators outdoors away from windows and doors to prevent fumes from entering the home; and,
- Be especially careful with appliances in recreational vehicles, cabins and houseboats, and use carbon monoxide detectors specifically made for these locations.
In addition, do not idle vehicles or operate other combustion engines, such as diesel generators, in attached garages or other enclosed spaces. Carbon monoxide poisoning deaths are often the result of accidental exposure from vehicles running in closed garages.
For more information on indoor combustion pollutants and indoor air quality guidelines, click here.
- For additional information on carbon monoxide and carbon monoxide detectors, click here.
- For a list of State Fire Marshal approved carbon monoxide detectors, click here.
- For information on California Building and Residential Codes, click here.
- To request or schedule an inspection of your gas appliances – which may be free of cost – contact your local gas company.