Fiona Ma for State Assembly

A Small Investment Returns a Safer Home

Do you have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm in your home? Well if your answer is "no", it may be that you aren't aware of CO alarms. But you probably aren't the only one. A recent survey by Kelton Research found that half of American households don't have a carbon monoxide alarm.

Just as fire alarms detect smoke and alert you to a possible fire, CO alarms detect carbon monoxide and can save you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that causes poisoning by displacing oxygen in the bloodstream. The most common causes of CO poisoning are fires, heaters, vehicle exhaust, and range-top stoves.

At low levels of exposure, CO poisoning can cause health problems such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizzy spells, confusion, and irritability. Later stages of CO poisoning can cause loss of consciousness, brain damage, and even death. CO poisoning is responsible for over 500 deaths and about 20,000 emergency room visits annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

CO poisoning is especially dangerous for people 65 years and older. Because older adults more frequently have pre-existing health conditions that affect the heart, lungs and circulatory system, the presence of one or more of these conditions lowers the victim's tolerance, and risk of a fatal carbon monoxide exposure. In 2001, 25% percent of the carbon monoxide poisoning death from home related products were adults 65 years and older (Consumer Product Safety Commission).  

While these statistics are alarming, the good news is something can be done to prevent CO poisoning. By simply installing CO alarms, you can save you and your family from potential CO poisoning. 

Currently, 23 states require CO alarms. Unfortunately, California is not one of them. This is why my colleague, Senator Lowenthal (D- Long Beach) has introduced Senate Bill 183, of which I am a co-author of. SB 183 would require all existing single family homes to have a carbon monoxide detector installed by January 1, 2011. To learn more about SB 183, visit