According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 2,100 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year in the United States. In addition, there are more than 10,000 injuries annually from carbon monoxide (CO).
Because of these safety concerns, beginning April 1, sellers of one- and two-family dwellings, manufactured dwellings or multifamily housing units in Oregon that have a carbon monoxide source will be required by law to have one or more properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms installed before conveying title or transferring possession of a dwelling.
Carbon monoxide alarms will also be required in residential structures that undergo reconstruction, alteration or repair for which a building permit is required. And, as of April 1, landlords must provide properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms for all rental dwelling units with or within a structure containing a CO source.
The new state law, House Bill 3450, grew out of legislation adopted during the 2009 legislative session; its goal is to reduce the number of deaths and poisonings from carbon monoxide. Often called the silent killer, CO is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane) burn incompletely. Inside, heating and cooking equipment are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
Where should carbon monoxide alarms be installed?
- On each level of your home with sleeping areas.
- In each bedroom or within 15 feet outside of each sleeping area.
CO alarms shouldn’t be installed in the following areas:
- Garages and kitchens
- Extremely dusty, dirty, humid or greasy areas
- In direct sunlight or areas prone to temperature extremes — including ventilated attics, basement and crawl spaces, unfinished attics, insinuated or poorly insulated ceilingst and porches.
- In electrical outlets covered by curtains or other obstructions.
- In turbulent air, such as near ceiling fans, heat vents, air conditioners, fresh air returns or open windows. (Blowing air may prevent carbon monoxide from reaching the sensors.)
- Directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances (which may emit a trace amount of carbon monoxide only upon startup).
- Within 15 feet of heating and cooking appliances, or in or near very humid areas such as bathrooms.
Here are a few tips on CO alarm installation and maintenance from the National Fire Protection Association:
- Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
- For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout your house. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them as recommended.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Don’t run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if the garage door is open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle isn’t covered with snow.
In case you’d like to learn more about carbon monoxide and the upcoming law, here are some additional resources:
About the Author:
Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE is a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Redmond and Bend.