It's odorless, tasteless and accumulative, warns San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Capt. Justus Norgord of carbon monoxide.
The Station 33 captain said carbon monoxide detectors are now required in apartment complexes and multi-family housing units.
Previous to Jan. 1, 2013, detectors were only required in single-family homes or any dwelling with an attached garage by the California Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010.
"[Carbon monoxide poisoning] can cause frequent headaches, dizziness, confusion, and fainting," Norgord said.
The fire captain said that CO detectors should be placed on every floor of a house, but they don't need to be mounted high, like a smoke alarm. Batteries should be tested often, he said.
"Test them once a month," Norgord suggested. "Many times we respond to homes because of dead batteries in CO monitors."
CO detectors should be replaced every 5-7 years, according to the captain.
Norgord said if you have all electric appliances and no attached garages, you aren't required to have a CO detector.
"If you have an attached garage or anything that burns fossil fuels, you'll need one," he said.
Here are some more precautions for homeowners and renters to take from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department:
- Have your fuel-burning appliances checked by a trained professional
- Read and follow instructions on fuel-burning appliances
- Don't idle your car in the garage
- Don't use a gas oven to heat your home
- Don't ever use a charcoal grill indoors—even in the fireplace
- Don't use any gas powered engines in enclosed spaces
- Don't ignore symptoms of poisoning: severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, nausea or fainting
- Keep CO alarms free of dust and debris
In Dec. 2012, three people in Ramona were hospitalized for CO poisoning.
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) customers can contact the company at 800-411-SDGE (7343) to schedule a free safety inspection. Additional information about how to safely heat your home this winter is available at www.sdge.com/furnace-safety.