Staff Report

After a recent increase in calls about carbon monoxide detectors going off, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department is encouraging residents to consider changing batteries or getting a new alarm.

In July 2011, California Senate Bill 183 went into effect. Known as the “Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act,” the law requires California residents to install CO alarms in their homes.

Because the sensors in CO alarms have a limited lifespan, alarms bought in 2011 may start sounding an end-of-life warning beep at some point this year. If so, it is time to replace it.

CO is a colorless, odorless and tasteless poisonous gas that can be fatal when inhaled. Mild exposure can cause a slight headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. Extreme exposure can cause convulsions, unconsciousness, brain damage, and heart and lung failure, followed by death.

If a CO alarm goes off, get to fresh air and call 911, officials advise. If you are unable to leave your home, open the doors and windows, and turn off all possible sources of CO while you are waiting for assistance to arrive. Under no circumstance should an alarm be ignored.

For more information about carbon monoxide, visit