SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to increase public awareness about a new law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in homes beginning Jan. 1, 2007, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich proclaimed Dec. 4-10 “Carbon Monoxide Detector Awareness Week” in Illinois.
“Carbon monoxide is a silent killer - you can’t see it, smell it, or taste it,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “I signed a law earlier this year that requires carbon monoxide detectors in homes. The detectors are invaluable because they give people a chance to get out of their homes before it’s too late.”
Under Illinois’ new carbon monoxide detector law, already signed by Gov. Blagojevich, beginning Jan. 1, 2007, all buildings that use fossil fuel and have sleeping rooms or have an attached garage must have an approved, operating carbon monoxide detector installed within 15 feet of any sleeping area. Homes that have all electric appliances and do not have a fireplace or an attached garage will be exempt from the requirements.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that is produced when fossil fuels, such as natural gas, gasoline, wood, coal, propane, oil and methane, are burned incompletely. Heating equipment, such as furnaces and hot water heaters, stoves and fossil-fueled space heaters are among the potential indoor sources of carbon monoxide. In addition, homes with attached garages can allow carbon monoxide into the home when vehicles are generators are left running inside.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning vary with the concentration and time of exposure to the dangerous gas. Oftentimes, carbon monoxide poisoning is mistaken for other illnesses, such as influenza, food poisoning or other ailments that share the symptoms of dizziness, nausea, headache, coughing, irregular heartbeat, and pale skin with cherry red lips and ear tips.
According to the National Safety Council, approximately 200-300 people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning, while thousands more are sickened by the gas. Many victims are overcome in their sleep, unaware of the elevated carbon monoxide levels in their homes.
State Fire Marshal Dave Foreman said his agency is working with local fire departments throughout the state to increase awareness of the new law. “Accidental carbon monoxide deaths are very preventable simply by having a detector in your home,” Foreman said. “This law will help save many lives in Illinois, and that’s why we’re joining with local fire departments to get the word out across the state.”
The State Fire Marshal’s Office (OSFM) also has been working with the First Alert® alarm company on public awareness efforts. The company has donated nearly 3,000 combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to OSFM, which in turn distributed the detectors to several fire departments around the state. Those fire departments are providing the detectors to people in their communities who are unable to purchase the detectors on their own.
Carbon monoxide detectors are available in most home improvement and general merchandise stores. The detectors may be battery powered, plug-in with battery back-up, or AC hardwired with battery back-up. Prices range depending on features, but can range from approximately $20-50. The detector should be listed by an independent testing laboratory.
In addition to installing carbon monoxide detectors and testing them each month, Foreman said there are several steps people should take to prevent carbon monoxide buildup in their homes, including:
- Have your fuel-burning heating equipment (furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters, wood and coal stoves, space or portable heaters) and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather arrives.
- When using a fireplace, open the flue for adequate ventilation.
- Never use your oven to heat your home.
- Never leave a vehicle running in an attached garage, even if the garage doors are open.
- Never use a barbecue grill indoors.
More information about carbon monoxide and the new law is available on the OSFM website at www.state.il.us/osfm
Following is the text of Gov. Blagojevich’s proclamation:
WHEREAS, carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that is produced when fossil fuels, such as natural gas, gasoline, wood, coal, propane, oil and methane, are burned incompletely; and
WHEREAS, in the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fossil fuels are potential sources of carbon monoxide, while vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also cause dangerous levels of the gas; and
WHEREAS, exposure to elevated levels of carbon monoxide can produce symptoms similar to influenza, food poisoning or other illnesses, including dizziness, nausea, headache, coughing, irregular heartbeat, and pale skin with cherry red lips and ear tips; and
WHEREAS, approximately 200 people die each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning, and thousands more are sickened by exposure to the gas; and
WHEREAS, these deaths and illnesses can be prevented when homes and apartments are equipped with working carbon monoxide detectors, which alert residents to the presence of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois General Assembly approved and I signed into law this spring the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector Act, which requires, beginning January 1, 2007, for all homes and apartments that use fossil fuels or have an attached garage to have an approved, operating carbon monoxide detector installed within 15 feet of any sleeping area; and
WHEREAS, the Office of the State Fire Marshal is working with local fire departments throughout the state to increase public awareness of the new law and how carbon monoxide detectors can save lives:
THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim December 4-10, 2006 as CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR AWARENESS WEEK in Illinois. During this week I urge all citizens of Illinois to learn more about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and ensure that their homes are equipped with working carbon monoxide detectors by January 1, 2007.