Carbon monoxide detector law in effect in Summit County |

Carbon monoxide detector law in effect in Summit County

Rob Ryan
Summit Daily News
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

A new law requiring carbon monoxide alarms in homes has local property owners and managers scrambling to comply.

The law, known as the Lofgren and Johnson Families Carbon Monoxide Safety Act, went into effect on July 1 after Gov. Bill Ritter signed it in March. According to section 1 of the act, the alarms need to be installed within 15 feet of any room where people sleep in any home, “multi-family unit,” or rental property with a “fuel-fired heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage,” including wood-burning fireplaces. According to Encarta Encyclopedia Online, carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that bonds to hemoglobin in the blood when inhaled, resulting in asphyxiation.

The law applies to any of those types of properties built after July 1, and the alarms also need to be installed whenever an existing property changes ownership or is renovated. The owners and landlords of the properties are the ones on the hook for installing, maintaining and replacing the alarms, though there is no official penalty for not installing an alarm. According to Colorado House Rep. Christine Scanlan, who represents Summit County, a property owner would be liable if something happened to a tenant and the owner hadn’t complied with the law.

The new requirement has already begun to annoy some property owners. Jeni Shelton, co-owner of Ski Country Resorts property management company in Breckenridge, says she’s been contacting the owners of her company’s properties, and many of them think the new rules are excessive. Shelton said she also thinks the law is a bit extreme, especially since she’s been installing some of the alarms herself.

“It is what it is,” Shelton said. “I didn’t make the law, there’s not much I can do about it.”

Proponents of the law say it’s designed to be a safeguard and look out for everyone’s best interest.

“It’s a great way, especially in a tourist community, to protect people from a gas that’s a silent killer,” said Red, White and Blue Fire Department marshal Jay Nelson. “The law gives guests and homeowners an added sense of security.”

There have been several high-profile cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in recent months. A family was killed in Aspen by carbon monoxide poisoning last winter, and a family vacationing in Blue River nearly suffered the same fate. Nelson said the Blue River family only avoided a lethal case because they bought three alarms at the last minute before their vacation after hearing about the Aspen case.

“Without the alarm, they may not have noticed the leak until they had symptoms, and by then it might have been too late,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the department receives eight to 10 calls a year when they find carbon monoxide in the home. He said calls pick up in the wintertime when people switch on appliances that produce carbon monoxide emissions, such as stoves and furnaces.

Common symptoms of carbon monoxide are much like symptoms of the flu and include fatigue, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and disorientation. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call your local fire department right away. Most departments provide free carbon monoxide detection services. Carbon monoxide detectors are available at both City Markets, Target and Wal-Mart for around $20-$40.

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