New law effective Jan. 1st
CO law takes effect soon
October 15, 2006
By GLORIA CARR SUN-TIMES NEWS GROUP
Carbon monoxide detectors will be required
Carbon monoxide earned its name as the “silent killer” because it is an odorless, colorless and tasteless chemical that claims about 500 American lives each year.
It is for that reason that Illinois lawmakers passed a statute this spring, to take effect in January, requiring carbon monoxide detectors in every home.
Media campaigns have begun alerting the public about the new law, and local fire departments are including the information in fire-safety campaigns kicking into high gear this month, National Fire Prevention Month.
The new law will help protect families, said Mary Werderitch, executive director of the Mount Prospect-based Illinois Fire Safety Alliance.
And she hopes families take the law seriously and install working carbon monoxide detectors as well as smoke detectors in their homes.
“We have seen what happens – families are dying in fires with no working smoke detectors,” Werderitch said.
“We would hate to see the same statistics with the carbon monoxide detectors,” she said. “It (death) is something that can be prevented, which is the key.”
‘No idea it is there’
The Illinois Poison Center often is the first agency people reach out to when they suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. Anthony Burda, chief specialist at the center, said its hotline received 873 calls last year.
A majority of the callers had questions about whether certain signs or symptoms could be related to carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Carbon monoxide in its pure state has no odor. It’s tasteless, colorless, nonirritating,” he said. “You have no idea it is there in the pure state.”
Nationally, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning, he said. A question that often comes up is the difference between natural gas and carbon monoxide, Burda said.
Natural gas is methane, which can be smelled when the burner on a gas stove is left on, he said. Carbon monoxide is a chemical, he said.
Elderly people with cardiac disease and pregnant women are especially susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, even at low levels, Burda said.
Low levels can cause neurological damage to a developing fetus, he said.
The marketing of carbon monoxide detectors is helping people become more aware of dangers, Burda said. The detectors are reasonably priced and readily available.
If a carbon monoxide detector sounds and anyone in the home is having symptoms, call the fire department or go to the emergency room, Burda said.
Place near bedrooms
Carbon monoxide detectors should be placed within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes, according to the new law.
The law applies to both existing homes and new construction. The responsibility to supply and install one falls on the owner, it states. Tenants need to tell landlords if a detector is not working properly.
The law does not indicate whether any fines will be levied or which jurisdiction will enforce the law.
– The Beacon News </STRONG>