Carbon monoxide is an area of risk management that has been the focus of new laws in many states. Currently, at least twenty-five (25) states have legislation on carbon monoxide detector requirements. State laws vary in their specifics, and federal agencies are working on legislation encouraging all states to require carbon dioxide detectors in homes.
Why is this occuring? There are over 500 reported deaths and over 10,000 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning each year in the United States. Therefore, it is important that states take regulatory action. Carbon monoxide legislation will protect owners from more liability—as well as from potential tragedy.
What is CO? Carbon monoxide (CO) is often called the "the silent killer” because it is a colorless and odorless gas. It forms when carbon-based fuels, such as propane, charcoal or wood burn with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion.
Early symptoms can be nausea, headache, dizziness, and flu-like symptoms. However, most of the time, it is not detected at all, and death can occur without any noticeable warning. It is one of the leading causes of accidental death in the United States and one that is preventable.
Where does it come from? Carbon monoxide can stem from faulty fireplaces, water heaters, gas appliances, space heaters, charcoal-burning devices inside buildings, running car engines in an enclosed garage, and more.
How can you prevent it? Installing an inexpensive battery-operated carbon monoxide detector that meets the requirements of the current UL standard 2034 or the IAS 6-96 standard, which can detect the gas and emit an alarm, is the easiest way of exposing this deadly gas, although certain states are now requiring hard-wired detectors. There are also combination detectors for both smoke and carbon monoxide available.
However, relying on a CO detector is not the only solution. Owners can take preventative measures such as making sure gas dryers and other gas appliances are well ventilated to the outside, and checking fireplaces for proper operation. It is important for residents to avoid using charcoal devices or camping equipment inside or leaving their car running inside a garage, and to notify the gas company if they detect any indication of a gas smell.
As more deaths occur, more legislation is to be expected. Meanwhile, the answer to the “silent killer” is prevention. To check on carbon monoxide legislation and specific state requirements, go to http://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=19975. You can go to http://www.epa.gov to research carbon monoxide.
As an investor, we want you to be aware of what can affect your investment. Our company is always prepared to keep up on state and local legislation, oversee important maintenance, and educate tenants whenever possible in order to protect your investment.