Carbon Monoxide Act will Save Lives

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Previews International (#1 Marin_Sonoma_San Francisco_North_Bay) DRE# 01415544

According to the American Medical Association, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States.  The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that carbon monoxide – the “silent killer” – kills approximately 500 people each year and injures another 20,000 people nationwide.

Carbon monoxide is emitted in small amounts from heaters, fireplaces, furnaces and other appliances, but, if working improperly, those appliances can slowly and subtly produce toxic amounts. 

Depending on the exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning can have either short term or long term effect and can include mild acute poisoning such as lightheadedness, confusion, headaches, vertigo, and flu-like effects; larger exposures can lead to significant toxicity of the central nervous system and heart, and even death.

Being colorless, odorless, tasteless and initially non-irritating, it is very difficult for people to detect.  To prevent such tragic consequences, California signed into law The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 (SB 183) in May 2010. 

Beginning July 1, this law will go into effect, requiring homeowners to install carbon monoxide detector in every "dwelling unit intended for human occupancy."  

The applicable time periods are as follows:

  1. All existing single family homes with fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage must install the CO detectors by July 1.
  2. Owners of multi-family leased or rental dwellings, such as apartment buildings, must install the co detectors by January 1, 2013.  

The following language comes packaged with carbon monoxide (CO) detectors:

“For minimum security, a CO Alarm should be centrally located outside of each separate sleeping area n the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.  The Alarm should be located at least 6 inches (152mm) from all exterior walls and at least 3 feet (0.9 meters) from supply or return vents.”  

Noncompliance can be punishable by a maximum of $200 for each offene if the owner fails to correct the problem 30 days after receiving notice to correct. 

Currently, only 10 percent off households have the device, which typically costs $20-$30, is easy to install and can be found in most home improvement and hardware stores.   

Similar to, but not the same as the smoke detectors, this is a small investment that really can help save your life and the lives of your loved ones!  

For Home Sellers and Buyers - The Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement has been updated to require sellers to disclose whether there are Carbon Monoxide Device(s) in the property. 

For more information on carbon monoxide, how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, CO poisoning symptoms and safety guidelines, please click for Information on Carbon Monoxide on CA Fire website  or visit the CAL FIRE Web site at  

(*) Disclaimer - The article is intended to provide general information on the subject.  Readers who require specific advice should consult experts in the area of interest.

Comments (4)

James Loftis - West Palm Beach, FL

I seem to hear more and more cases where carbon Monoxide has been the cause for poisoning.

Sep 03, 2011 07:31 AM
Sylvia Barry
Coldwell Banker Previews International (#1 Marin_Sonoma_San Francisco_North_Bay) - San Rafael, CA
Marin and Sonoma Real Estate Leading Expert

Yes, James!  I remember reading something about whole family killed by carbon monoxide, very tragic.  The device is just $20 or so, kind of like smoke detector, must have!

Sep 05, 2011 04:20 AM
Rob Spinosa
US Bank - Larkspur, CA
Mortgage Loan Originator, Marin County

I am adding to this thread a "heads up" for anyone who may be reading and thinking about any type of home financing in 2012 (refinancing or listing home for sale).  Please make sure to have a CO detector installed in your home prior to getting an appraisal.  Without the detectors, some appraisers will indicate that the appraisal report is provided "subject to completion" and no "as is," with the installation of detector(s) being the item to be completed.

Certainly it's not hard to install the detectors, but if the appraisal comes back "subject to" it may require a costly and time consuming reinspection --- something that can and should easily be avoided.


Dec 23, 2011 12:00 AM
Sylvia Barry
Coldwell Banker Previews International (#1 Marin_Sonoma_San Francisco_North_Bay) - San Rafael, CA
Marin and Sonoma Real Estate Leading Expert

Thank you, Rob, for this advise.  I think I vaguely heard somebody about this, so I really appreciate your clarifying this point!  Happy Hoidays!

Dec 26, 2011 07:26 AM