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Why are carbon monoxide (CO) alarms required by law for homes in Florida?
Saturday, May 18, 2019
The words "accidental poisoning death” conjure up pretty horrible images: toddlers getting past the child-proof latch under the kitchen sink, an unmarked container of rat poison powder mistaken for something else in the pantry. Stuff like that, followed by an ugly, convulsing death. But the most common cause of accidental poisoning death in the home is carbon monoxide. About 500 people die from it every year in the United States.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is insidious in a complletely different way. Odorless and undetectible, other than a headache and general aching feeling before you lose consciousness, it is a silent killer. Until the invention of affordable electronic carbon monoxide alarms, the only way to reduce CO deaths was education about why it happens and strategies to keep it from entering your home.
But Florida took action to make our residents safer in their homes in 2008 when the legislature passed Florida Statute 553.885. The law does not mandate that all houses install CO alarms, but requires them in new houses and any house that builds an addition if, and only if, the house has a garage, fireplace, or any fossil-fuel burning appliances, such as a gas range, water heater, or furnace. An alarm must be installed in the hallway or access area outside each bedroom. To read the full text of the law, go to our blog post Are carbon monoxide alarms required to be installed in homes in Florida? "Combo” alarms are also available that monitor for both smoke and carbon monoxide.
Most of the deaths up north occur during the winter months due to faulty heating appliances. The primary culprits here in Florida are a car accidentally left running in the garage—which is more common with seniors—and a gas generator operating in a garage after a hurricane power outage. Faulty tankless gas water heaters have also been blamed for several recent deaths.
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