Legislator Abrahams Urges Installation of CO Alarms to Save Lives

With recent reports of carbon monoxide poisoning in the news, Nassau County Legislator Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) reminds residents to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms as well as smoke detectors in their home. A CO alarm is the only way to detect the presence of carbon monoxide since CO is invisible and odorless and can be fatal when inhaled. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, confusion, fatigue, headache, nausea or sleepiness. Carbon monoxide kills by inhibiting the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. It can kill in minutes if present in high quantities, or in hours in low concentrations.

Between 2002 and 2006, there were 98 hospitalizations from carbon monoxide due to a variety of causes.  In 2006, County CO hospitalizations accounted for approximately 13% of New York State’s total number of hospitalizations. Everyone is susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.  As with many health conditions, the very young, the elderly and those suffering from other health challenges are at greatest risk.

Common sources of carbon monoxide poisoning include a leaking or clogged fireplace flue, an improperly installed gas range or vent, or a corroded or disconnected water heater vent pipe.  Avoid the risk of CO poisoning by:

  • Scheduling annual maintenance of furnaces and other combustion appliances.
  • Never burning charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent.
  • Never using portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent.
  • Never leaving a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never using gas appliances such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers for heating a home.
  • Never operating unvented, fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows or in any room where people are sleeping.
  • Never using gasoline-powered tools and engines indoors

Nassau County has required CO alarms in all new residential construction since November 12, 2000, and in all existing hotels, motels and temporary residences since September 27, 2001.

For additional information about carbon monoxide, call the Nassau County Department of Health Bureau of Environmental Investigations weekdays from 9:00 A.M. to 4:45 P.M. at (516) 227-9459 or visit their website at www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/health/FAQ/CO.html.