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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Strikes Chicago Home

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March 6, 2012
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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Strikes Chicago Home

It was a close call for two adults and two children who were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. I recently came across this story, reported from Englewood, a section of Chicago, IL, and it reminded me that several states (including California and New York) have passed legislation requiring certain homeowners to install carbon monoxide sensors. It remains to be seen how many residents of these states will comply with the new laws aimed at saving lives.

A 52-year-old woman, a 22-year-old man and two children became ill Sunday night from elevated carbon monoxide levels in a South Side Englewood neighborhood home. Fire Media Affairs reported at 11:35 p.m. that a Level 1 Hazmat response was called to the 7100 block of South Winchester Avenue due to high carbon monoxide levels.

More on the Poisoning

The residence did not have electricity and a generator was operating in the basement, according to Fire Media Affairs. A 52-year-old woman, a 22-year-old man and two boys ages 14 and 12 were all taken from the home to Holy Cross Hospital in fair-to-serious condition, according to Fire Media Affairs.

These people were lucky: they could have all died. And while their situation was a bit unusual (operating without electricity), there are many homes that are just as susceptible.

Why is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?

Often called “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent, invisible byproduct of incomplete combustion, so it’s often associated with furnaces and portable heaters: here’s a link to the science of how it kills. At only medium concentration, CO can cause death in as little as 15 minutes, while much lower levels can harm pregnancies and cause long-term health issues. Death caused by CO inhalation is on the increase. In fact, the AMA (American Medical Association) names CO as the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America.

The California Law

A state law passed in 2010, requires that all California homes with a fireplace, gas appliance, or attached garage, have a detector installed by July 1. The law was passed to help prevent the death of hundreds and sickness to thousands, lawmakers said. More than 30 people die statewide of carbon monoxide poisoning each year and more than 500 nationwide. An Oakhurst family of four, including two children, was killed in January when their electricity went out and they used a gas-powered generator in a basement to power their home. The poisonous gas filled their home and they died in their sleep, according to investigators.

The New York Law (Amanda’s Law)

Amanda’s Law was named in honor of Buffalo, NY resident Amanda Hansen, a teenage girl who lost her life to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from a defective boiler when sleeping over at a friend’s house in January 2009. Effective February 22, 2010, a new law went into effect in New York to help protect families from the #1 cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the US, carbon monoxide.

Monitored CO Sensors are Best

While the cheaper “plug in” sensors are readily available, there is no substitute for a monitored carbon monoxide sensor. Just like a monitored smoke and heat sensor, a monitored CO sensor will send the alarm to the 24 hour monitoring center, which can dispatch help immediately. If you have passed out from CO poisoning, just having a loud noise is not going to save your life. A monitored system has a much better chance of making that crucial difference – by summoning help.

Today’s alarm systems are designed to monitor for much more than intrusion. There are sensors for CO, smoke and heat, water, and even low temperature. It just makes sense to add one or more of these to any monitored alarm system – and with the right alarm company, you won’t pay any extra monthly fees for the additional monitoring services. Your insurance company will appreciate it too, and may reward you with a lower premium. A full range of sensors goes hand in hand with interactive, wireless home security – the kind you find you find at FrontPoint, the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. Do you have all the sensors you need to protect your family?

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