CO Poisoning

On Saturday (02/22/14) Steve Nelson, the General Manager at Legal Seafoods here on Long Island was killed by Carbon Monoxide poisoning. My daughter, Megan Smith, the Assistant General Manager was nearly killed. Carbon Monoxide leaked into the office spaces as a result of a faulty water heater exhaust. As Home Inspectors we know that improper, or damaged water heater, furnace, and boiler exhausts are more common than the average person would think.
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned by breathing it. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.
Let’s be extra careful when we inspect water heater, furnace, and boiler vents.

Thanks for the reminder Bill sad to hear about your daughter and the Manager .
This is a very important subject , Hope she is OK now … Roy

thanks for the reminder. Its sobering that these things, are so dangerous and often overlooked, by some installers.

I heard the story on news today, so sorry about your daughter. Did she need to go to hospital?

IMO, (and most AHJ’s cities and REA’s are against), CO2 detectors should be installed in all businesses and homes as a requirement. Some do, but most do not. Point to them. All the best to your daughter.

Bill , I am glad your daughter escaped this deadly incident and is on road to recovery. As a fellow Long Islander who has been to that mall numerous times, it is shocking that commercial establishments are not required to have these detectors. Im sure you have heard today that local politicians are just astonished and are looking to require all county and Town buildings To install them. Of course the real reason its not required is because of cost to install them and builders and owners dont wanna spend the money . Its a shame that money dictates the safety of ones life. As Huntington’s legislature said on news today " how much is a life worth". I know your answer and i am confident the vast majority of people agree that there should be no question about the price that could save a life. There should be a nation wide call for these alarms to be installed anywhere a life could be lost. God bless your daughter and your family

And to think I’ve heard some REA’s say flue/vent issues aren’t deal killers. For shame on them. Hope all is well in the long run!!!

Yup, Not as uncommon as you might think!

There was another one in Maine today too.


I’m glad to hear your daughter made it through this tragedy. I wish her a speedy recovery.

I don’t know if you two are into the spotlight in manner of speaking, but this would be a great time to press your lawmakers on the need for required co alarms. But for sure after proper r/r.

Its now the law in Ontario .
All Home must have a C/O alarm

Home » Ontario’s CO Alarm Law
Ontario’s CO Alarm Law

The passage of the new Carbon Monoxide (CO) law in Ontario underscores the need for every householder to consider carbon monoxide risks. The worst case scenario is homes with no CO alarms. Homes with CO alarms that are past their optimal life span may also put occupants at risk.
Research shows that the majority of consumers are generally unaware of the dangers associated with CO. Alarm purchases are typically associated with an incident, whether it be a tragic loss or close call.

An all electric building w/o any gas appliance and no attached garage needs a CO monitor? Nope.

I am sorry to hear that a person died and others got sick. Let’s get one thing straight CO is a killer or as my mentor calls it a “nocturnal predator”. I read an account and caught a news blip about it. Yes the defective flue allowed the CO to be released into the building but it was not the cause. Someone screwed the pooch and did not properly adjust the burner. The burner mixture is what caused the CO. If the burner was properly adjusted and maintained the chances of CO death are drastically decreased. I started doing commercial and residential HVAC in 1985 and am very anal when it domes to combustion analysis, water heater, furnace, boiler, RTU’s, pool heaters or gas ranges I don’t care. There is much here to learn and inspect for. I also teach HVACR and am a “Certified Educator” by HVAC Excellence. Take a cyber trip over to HVAC Talk and search Jim Davis “Captain CO”. HE is with National Comfort Institute and will enlighten you. If you have the time, go take his classes. I guarantee you will look at CO and the need for monitoring along with combustion analysis differently and in a new light. IF ONLY we could get a class by Jim for Indoor Air Quality or perhaps HVAC…hint, hint

Gary you may want to correct what you said. CO2 is not the same as CO.

I wonder how many would do some thing in the winter if the Electricity was of for a week or more Like buy a heater .

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The State of Washington has the most restrictive CO detector law. All homes, electric, gas, garage, no garage, doesn’t matter, must have a CO detector.

“The Revised Code of Washington, RCW 19.27.530, mandates that any owner-occupied single-family residence that is sold on or after April 1, 2012, THE SELLER MUST EQUIP the residence with carbon monoxide alarms in accordance with the requirements of the state building code before the buyer OR ANY OTHER PERSON may legally occupy the residence following such sale.”

Colorado has had their law since 2009.
It also applies to all rental properties regardless of when they are sold.

Not just CO detectors. Installed BY THE SELLER.

Yes Stephen, your law states installed by the seller. So does Colorado’s.

Colorado also mandates that a landlord must have CO detectors in all residential properties they rent.