Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Carbon Monoxide Alarms Save Lives

A bill was signed into law in Colorado last year that mandated carbon monoxide alarms beginning July 1, 2009. Here are the basics of the law: it applies to new homes, homes that are sold, homes that are remodeled, and rental homes or apartments where a change of tenancy occurs after July 1, 2009. The alarms need to be installed within 15 feet of sleeping areas.

Here is a link to House Bill 09-1091, see it for complete details.

So what is carbon monoxide and why should we be concerned about it? Here are some facts from the article, Carbon Monoxide Questions and Answers.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. These products include malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces; and charcoal that is burned in homes and other enclosed areas.

Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:
  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Ultimately death
Symptom severity is related to both the CO level and the duration of exposure. For slowly developing residential CO problems, occupants and/or physicians can mistake mild to moderate CO poisoning symptoms for the flu, which sometimes results in tragic deaths. For rapidly developing, high level CO exposures (e.g., associated with use of generators in residential spaces), victims can rapidly become mentally confused, and can lose muscle control without having first experienced milder symptoms; they will likely die if not rescued.

As you can see, carbon monoxide can be very serious. I advise that even if this law doesn’t apply to you that you install alarms in your home. Some simply plug in to a wall outlet. A basic battery operated model can be had for less than twenty dollars. That’s a small price to pay for safety and peace of mind.


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