Carbon Monoxide Safety
- Tips from the National Fire Protection Association
- Heating equipment is the leading cause of CO incidents. -40% of CO calls occur between the months of November and February when home heating systems are in use.
- Most CO calls occur between 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. - This is the time when most heating equipment is being used at home.
- 97% of all CO incidents occur in residential buildings.
- Carbon Monoxide (CO) is known as the Odorless Killer because it is a poisonous gas that has no visible color, taste, or odor. Each year many people die or are injured from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. CO alarms are intended to provide the early warning signs that smoke alarms provide in fires. Nicole’s Law was passed to protect the people of Massachusetts from the danger of carbon monoxide gas and to prevent carbon monoxide related deaths and injuries.
- Since the enactment of Nicole’s Law in March 2006, between 2005-2006 there was a 93% increase of CO related calls to fire departments.
Main Components of the law:
- The law requires carbon monoxide alarms be installed on every level of the home, including habitable portions of basements and attics, in most residences.
- On levels with sleeping areas, carbon monoxide alarms should be installed within 10-feet of bedroom doors.
- Levels of the home that do not have habitable living spaces are not required to have CO alarms.
- Nicole’s Law also requires landlords to install and maintain CO alarms in every dwelling unit that has a source of carbon monoxide.
- Large apartment buildings, where there is no source inside the individual apartments, may use an alternative method to detect CO near the furnace or boiler rooms.
- When purchasing a CO alarm, be sure to look for the approval label of an independent testing company, such as Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) or International Approval Service/Canadian Standards Association (IAS/CSA). Most CO alarms that are sold in Massachusetts meet these standards, but it is a good idea to check before purchasing your CO alarm.
The CO alarms may be:
- Battery operated with battery monitoring or;
- Plug-ins with battery back-up; or
- Low voltage system; or
- Wireless; or
- Qualified combination (smoke/carbon monoxide alarm)
Last heating season there were many stories of lives saved because of carbon monoxide alarms and we are expecting .
The Department of Fire Services has long suspected that the true number of non-fatal carbon monoxide poisoning cases has been underestimated. People who may have felt unwell or thought they had the flu in the past, may find out now that they had been exposed to unhealthy levels of CO.
CO Alarms Save Lives
On January 19, 2007, the Brookline Fire Department was called to a public housing complex when the CO detector in an apartment activated. The fire department’s CO meter discovered levels up to 24 PPM in the apartment, a slightly elevated level of CO. EMS personnel evaluated the occupant outside. The gas stove in the kitchen was determined to be the origin of the CO. It was subsequently shut off and the apartment was ventilated. CO levels dropped to 0 PPM.