Growing Number of State, Local Laws Now Mandate CO Alarms in Residences
The Silent Killer – carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning – attacks more U.S. homes during the winter months than other times of the year. Fortunately, a recent surge in state and local laws that require CO alarms will help prevent such peril.
The leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States, CO, is a colorless, odorless gas one cannot detect and is responsible for an average of 450 deaths and more than 20,000 emergency room visits annually. The average number of deaths is highest in January, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association
. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reports 41 percent of home CO exposure occurs from December to February.
“Thirty states will require carbon monoxide alarms in homes by 2011 and we anticipate even more jurisdictions, including municipalities, will pass similar statutes to combat the threat CO poses,” said Deborah Hanson, director of external affairs for First Alert, a leader in residential fire and CO detection devices. “Such protection is critical because carbon monoxide strikes without warning and can be deadly.”
California will soon enact carbon monoxide-related legislation, mandating that owners of all existing single-family dwellings containing an attached garage or a fossil fuel source install CO alarm devices within the dwelling by July 1, 2011. Newly-constructed homes are required to have the alarms starting Jan. 1, 2011.
Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin also plan to expand their respective CO alarm requirements in 2011.
CO codes vary by state, but each requires the installation of at least one properly functioning CO alarm in specific home types. Information on laws in specific jurisdictions is available on the First Alert Legislation Map
“These laws are greatly needed,” said Hanson. “A recent nationwide study* of Americans revealed that 90 percent of homes do not comply with the recommended number of CO alarms per home and, even more worrisome, 40 percent reported having not even one working carbon monoxide detector. Homes not properly equipped with CO alarms can lead to tragedy, particular in these cold weather months when alternative heating sources are used more frequently.”
CO sources may include, but are not limited to, heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, generators, appliances or cooking devices using coal, wood, petroleum products or other fuels emitting CO as a by-product of combustion. According to the National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA), CO deaths associated with the growing use of generators have increased over the years with an estimated 34 percent of those fatalities occurring during the winter.
The current recommendation by the NFPA (www.nfpa.org) is to have at least one CO alarm on each level of a home and one in or near every bedroom or sleeping area. To put this into perspective, the average sized home in America – a two-story, three bedroom house** – would need a minimum of five alarms to meet NFPA guidelines.
For those in need of new CO alarms, a wide variety of innovative products are available with an assortment of features to meet different needs. First Alert products range from combination smoke and CO units to basic battery-powered products. First Alert Smoke and CO Alarms are available at local and national retailers or for purchase through the First Alert online store
For more information and a complete homes afety checklist, visit the First Alert Home Safety Checklist
*First Alert “Get Alarmed” Survey”, July 2010 – Findings are based on the responses of 1,000 adults in the United States who answered a telephone survey July 15 and July 18, 2010. Results are accurate to +/-3 percent points with a 95 percent confidence level and can be generalized to the entire U.S. adult population. For more information or a copy of the complete survey and results, contact Tim Young at LCWA: 312/565-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
**National Association of Home Builders, June 14, 2010