Carbon Monoxide Detectors & the Law

Carbon monoxide (CO) is responsible for more than 400 deaths in the U.S. each year. Further, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 4,000 hospitalizations and approximately 20,000 emergency room visits are...


Carbon monoxide (CO) is responsible for more than 400 deaths in the U.S. each year. Further, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 4,000 hospitalizations and approximately 20,000 emergency room visits are related to CO poisoning each year. And, because...


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One significant debate is whether the requirement should apply to all residential buildings or only new buildings. CO is just as dangerous in an older building (and perhaps more so in some cases), but asking homeowners and building managers to retrofit can be an expensive proposition. As a result, legislatures have been fairly evenly divided in their decisions. Only 11 states require detectors in all buildings, while 13 limit the requirement to only new construction. An additional nine states have taken some sort of combination approach, requiring installation in all structures of certain types, but only in newly constructed buildings of other types. For example, in Maine, installation is required in all multi-family and rental dwellings, but only in new single-family dwellings.

Fire service leaders interested in injury prevention should take a serious look at the Safe Kids policy recommendation. Although many states have laws, few are adequate.