Local Politics

Lawmakers consider making carbon monoxide detectors mandatory

Posted May 22, 2008

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— State lawmakers on Thursday considered a bill that would make carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in many homes.

If passed, the bill would require carbon monoxide detectors in new construction and existing rental properties, particularly those with indoor heaters, fireplaces and attached garages. State Sen. William Purcell, D-Anson,  sponsored the bill. The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force recommended the change.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Each year, the gas kills 500 people in the U.S. and sends 15,000 people to emergency rooms with poisoning.

In 2007, Edward Bartlett, 81, died after carbon monoxide from a running car filled his Holly Springs townhouse. Two people in adjoining units sought medical attention after feeling ill.

The bill has some builders asking for more information on the cost and safety benefits of the devices.

“To have this piece of legislation going forward without an open forum and an open debate, I think might be a little premature,” said builder Michael Dean Chadwick.

Chadwick, a member of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County, said lawmakers should not mandate the detectors without an intense study.

“We’re not opposed to doing things that are going to help save lives,” Chadwick said. “There’s just too much unknown at this point for people to be rushing to judgment that we need this. No one is saying that we don’t. We just don’t know.”

Raleigh Fire Department Fire Protection Officer Ronald Campbell said the devices are effective and recommended people have them.

“I think it helps in getting the message out that these are vital pieces of equipment in your home to help save a life. They are not that expensive, and anything that is not expensive and can help save your family's life is worth it to us in the fire department,” Campbell said.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, malfunctioning furnaces account for nearly one out of five carbon monoxide illnesses. Appliances that use natural gas and gas line leaks are next on the list. Motor vehicles and gas-powered generators are also common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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  • fkhaywood May 23, 2008

    What good will a carbon monoxide detector do if you live in a home that is all-electric with a heat pump, and doesn't even have a gas line run to it or a gas tank for propane for any appliances. That is about as useless as a 'screen door on a submarine'. Exceptions should be sllowed for homes that do not have any type of 'open flame' type of heating, water heating, or meal preparation. Don't the lawmakers have any common sense????????

  • colliedave May 22, 2008

    What about radon detectors? How about madatory scales to see we maintain a healthy weight?

  • daMoFo May 22, 2008

    Great idea! I need the government to hold my hand 24 hours a day. Government always knows best and of course people are too dumb to buy their own CO detector right? And of course this law would give people another excuse to sue someone if their apartment CO detector didn't wotk perfectly. Do something really useful Raleigh like get the illegal aliens out of the state!

  • Slip Kid May 22, 2008

    Yep, just what we need: another law that is blindly applied to all. They need pass a law that makes everybody get a job. Of course, that would require a LOT of people to work for the government (and we call that.... " "?). Maybe I'll wake up one day and not have to decide what to do. There'll be a law for my every waking moment!