Carbon Monoxide FAQs
As of July 1, 2011, the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (Senate Bill – SB 183) requires all single-family homes with an attached garage or a fossil fuel source to install carbon monoxide alarms within the home by July 1, 2011. Owners of multi-family leased or rental dwellings, such as apartment buildings, have until January 1, 2013 to comply with the law.
Smoke alarms play a vital role in reducing deaths and injuries from fire and have contributed to the almost 50% decrease in fire deaths since the late 1970s. When smoke alarms fail it is most often because of missing, disconnected or dead batteries. Nuisance activations were the leading cause of disabled smoke alarms.
Most smoke detectors have a “test” button. This can be pressed to check if the system has proper continuity. Others have small lights that will indicate whether power is reaching the detector.
The batteries in a smoke detector should be changed at least twice every year. A good way to remember is to change the batteries in your smoke detector when you change your clocks in the fall and spring for daylight savings time. If the smoke detector begins to “chirp”, it may be a sign that it may need a new battery. Always use the manufacturer’s prescribed batteries to ensure proper operation.
In addition, hard-wired smoke detectors have been required to have battery back-up in case the electrical power in your home is out. The recommended battery replacement schedule for hard-wired smoke detectors is the same as mentioned above; two times each year.
The Fire Department offers the following tips for making sure the smoke alarms in your home are maintained and working properly:
- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home.
- Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button, and make sure everyone in your home knows their sound.
- If an alarm "chirps," warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
- Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they're ten years old (or sooner) if they do not respond properly when tested.
- Legally dispose of your smoke detector (click here for information).
The Fire Prevention Division has recently seen an increase in questions regarding sky lanterns (also known as paper, floating, or Chinese lanterns). These are open flame devices that have traditionally been used in a variety of cultures for celebrating special events such as weddings.
As the name implies, they rise into the sky due to the heat generated by a flame inside a balloon-like structure. They are typically two to three feet high and are not tethered in any way.
These lanterns are illegal to use in Ventura County and several other counties since these devices violate Sec 308 of the CA Fire Code due to the uncontrolled nature and the potential for landing in combustible vegetation. Sky lanterns have been the cause of wildfires elsewhere in the state.
Fireworks are illegal in the city of Ventura. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at an official, approved fireworks show. There is a $424 fine for use or possession of fireworks; possession of larger amounts of fireworks may result in a felony charge. Fireworks purchased over the internet are illegal (not just in Ventura but throughout the state).
"Safe and sane" fireworks are neither safe, nor sane. Fireworks and sparklers are designed to explode or throw off showers of hot sparks; sparklers for instance burn at temperatures of approximately two thousand degrees F compared to a burning book of matches at seven hundred degrees F.
Fires use any foliage for fuel, so please do your part by maintaining your home’s landscaping. Clearance of hazardous vegetation creates a vital defensible space between homes and potential brushfires.
Due to extended drought conditions and climate change, fire season is year round. The following guidelines can assist you in maintaining a defensible space around your home.
- Vacant Lots- Vegetation, brush, weeds, grass and hazardous vegetation should be maintained at a height of not more than 3 inches above ground level.
- Developed Lots – Brush, weeds, grass and hazardous vegetation within 100 ft of any structure should be maintained at a height of not more than 3 inches above ground level.
- Road Surfaces – All vegetation within 10 feet of any usable road surface should be maintained at a height of not more than 3 inches.
- Combustible Fences – All vegetation within 10 feet of any combustible fence should not exceed a maximum height of 3 inches.
- Trees, Shrubs, Bushes – Or other vegetation adjacent to or overhanging any structure should be maintained free of dead limbs and other combustible matter.
- Chimneys – Trees should be maintained so that no portion is closer than 10 feet from any chimney opening.
- Roof Surfaces – Should be maintained free of substantial accumulations of needles, twigs, and any other combustible matter.
- Erosion – Grasses and other vegetation located more than 30 feet from any building and less than 18 inches in height may be retained where necessary to stabilize soil and prevent erosion. Evaluate your specific conditions and choose plants that grow easily and abundantly, have a low fuel volume, require infrequent watering, retain moisture, and have a strong, deep root system.
Download a copy of a fire preparedness brochure called “Ready, Set, Go!” to learn more about creating a defensible space and cost-effective retrofits that will make your home more fire-resistant.
Contact Fire Prevention and Building and Safety for the latest requirements for constructing new structures or remodeling in high fire hazard zones.