Syracuse, NY - Syracuse Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Cavuto remembers the day rescue crews saved the lives of two city residents overcome by carbon monoxide.The man had stopped breathing, and the woman was semi-conscious, poisoned by fumes from a car left running in an attached garage at their home, on Eastview Avenue. Like many residences, the house had no carbon monoxide detector to alert residents to deadly levels of the odorless gas that can kill in a matter of minutes, Cavuto said.
Beginning Feb. 22, a new state law requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in nearly every house and apartment in New York.Amanda’s Law requires property owners with homes built before 2008 to have at least one functioning carbon monoxide detector on the lowest level with a bedroom. The law is more rigid for newer homes.The only dwellings exempt are those without gas sources, such acccs a home powered entirely by electricity, and with no garage, Cavuto said.
Recent surveys conducted by Kenton Research and Underwriters Laboratories found that half of Americans do not have a working carbon monoxide alarm in their home, said Heather Caldwell, who speaks for the Kidde Residential and Commercial division of UTC Fire and Security, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. Kidde makes carbon monoxide alarms. But a new survey found three quarters of New York homeowners have them, Caldwell said.
“My thought as I walked away from that scene was how incredibly lucky these people were that someone took the time to check on them,” Cavuto said.
Amanda’s Law, signed last year by Gov. David Paterson, is named after a Buffalo-area teenager who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while at a sleepover at a girlfriend’s house. Amanda Hansen was 16 in January 2009 when fumes from a faulty boiler killed her. The house did not have a carbon monoxide detector.
Currently, New York requires detectors only in homes built after July 30, 2002. Municipalities will not send inspectors to owner-occupied, single-family homes to check for detectors. But code enforcement officers will check for the devices during regular inspections of rental properties.
David Jacobowitz, first vice president of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, said Amanda’s Law has stayed under the radar because it didn’t take effect immediately in August when Paterson signed it into law. The legislation was overshadowed by a law against texting while driving that the governor signed at the same time, he said.
“Now we’re just trying to get people educated, to get the word out,” Jacobowitz said.
Area firefighters and rescue crews are scheduled to discuss Amanda’s Law Saturday in Salina at the Onondaga County Volunteer Firemen’s Association’s annual legislative meeting. Amanda Hansen’s father, Ken, said he and his wife pushed for legislation to make sure no other families had to suffer the loss they did. They’re relieved to see Amanda’s Law taking effect, he said.
“With her name alive with this law, we know she is helping save other people,” Hansen said, “but it never gets easier.”
Cavuto, who’s fire department responded to 85 carbon monoxide incidents in 2009, said firefighters try to educate people about the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: dizziness, headaches and nausea. “We tell people, if you feel those symptoms or if multiple people suddenly begin feeling sick at the same time, you should at least suspect carbon monoxide,” Cavuto said. “But if you’re sleeping, you’re not going to know any of this. That’s why it’s important to have a detector.”
Central New York hardware stores are trying to alert their customers to the law.
Tom Handley, owner of Burke’s Do It Best home centers in Oswego and Fulton, said most of his customers don’t seem to be aware of the change. His staff is preparing for a surge in sales once people catch on, though, he said.
Homeowners and landlords who don’t have the detectors will have to shell out $20 to $50 for each device.
Cavuto said his department doesn’t have a budget to distribute free carbon monoxide detectors the way it does with smoke detectors. The department can buy smoke detectors for $3 apiece, he said. Syracuse Code Enforcement Director Mike Bova said his office this week drafted a code violation to apply to those who fail to install the detectors. Bova’s office will check for the detectors when they inspect rental properties.
“We’ve got a lot of landlords with an awful lot of units,” Bova said. “They’re going to have to go and buy these things in large numbers.”
Landlords who don’t meet the law’s standards won’t be able to get on the city’s mandatory Rental Registry for one- and two-family rentals or receive a required certificate of compliance for buildings with three or more units, Bova said. They could have their water shut off or be otherwise kept from renting their units.
There is no fine associated with a violation of Amanda’s Law. However, if someone becomes sick or dies because a property owner failed to install a detector, they will be open to lawsuits, Bova said.
“Ignorance of the law doesn’t get you out of anything,” Bova said.
Calls for UK Law to be changed
In the UK their are calls for the law to be changed so that every home must have a Carbon Monoxide Alarm or detector in them. The devestation of suffering a loss for the silent killer Carbon Monoxide poisoning has been felt many including Lynn Griffiths of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Registered Charity Co-Awareness.
Recently an Early Day Motion was put forward to recognise the dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
If you wish to purchase a Carbon Monoxide Alarm or Detector then visit http://www.co-awareness.com