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Carbon Monoxide Detectors Become Mandatory in New York Today

Amanda's Law, signed into law in August 2009, takes effect today. Amanda's Law mandates the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in all homes in New York State. The law is named for 16-year-old Amanda Hansen of West Seneca, New York, who died on January 17, 2009, due to a carbon monoxide leak from a defective boiler while she was sleeping at a friend's house.

Under Amanda's Law, homes built before January 1, 2008, are permitted to have battery-powered CO alarms, while homes built after this date are required to have the alarms hard-wired into the building. Previously, only homes built or bought after July 30, 2002 were required to have these devices installed. Additionally, Amanda's Law will require contractors in New York State to install a CO alarm when replacing a hot water tank or furnace if the home is not equipped with an alarm.

Additionally, Amanda's law requires existing one- and two-family residences to have at least one carbon monoxide alarm installed on the lowest floor of the building having a sleeping area. The alarm must be clearly audible in all sleeping areas over background noise levels with all intervening doors closed.

Carbon monoxide can be produced when burning any type of fuel including gasoline, charcoal, propane, natural gas, kerosene, oil, wood or coal. If any flammable material burns incompletely, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide can kill or cause seriouis and permanent brain damage in minutes or hours depending on the levels in the air.

When carbon monoxide is inhaled at damaging levels it can lead to breathing difficulties, impaired judgment and memory, damage to the nervous system, cardiac trauma, brain damage, coma and death. Everyone is susceptible, but the American Medical Association says that unborn and young children, pregnant women, senior citizens and people with heart or respiratory problems are especially vulnerable and are at the highest risk for death or serious injury.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu and can include dizziness, fatigue, weakness, throbbing headache, nausea, vomiting, irregular breathing, sleepiness and confusion. By the time people realize there is a problem, they are often too sick or too disoriented to get out of the house and get help.

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Comments

kat

I understand that this addresses residential properties, but what about commercial buildings such as office structures or buildings with restaurants in them? If enough time is spent within these structures, couldn't the same symptoms occur? And couldn't it be just as dangerous?

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