“Silent Killer” could be prevented with more detectors
AUGUSTA – A bill that would require more buildings to have carbon monoxide detectors received unanimous support from the state’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
“It comes down to this, smoke detectors are required everywhere and this bill would ask the same for CO detectors,” said Democratic State Senator Bill Diamond of Windham, the bill’s sponsor. “With smoke, you can smell and notice the threat. With carbon monoxide, you cannot without the detector.”
The measure, LD 623 “An Act To Expand Maine’s Carbon Monoxide Detectors Law,” would expand a 2009 law that requires all rental units, newly purchased homes, houses, hotels and dormitories built or renovated after Aug. 1, 2012 to have carbon monoxide detectors. The measure, as amended, expands the requirement to schools, childcare facilities, inns, bed and breakfasts, and fraternity or sorority houses by May 2016.
“I am confident the law in 2009 has saved lives and there are more lives to be saved,” said Senator Diamond.
Carbon monoxide poisoning, often referred to as “the silent killer,” is a serious threat, especially in Maine where power outages are common and many people use generators for backup. It is odorless and tasteless which makes it difficult to recognize, and causes headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion, and can even be fatal.
According to the Maine Center for Disease Control, over 100 emergency department visits occur each year in Maine because of carbon monoxide exposure. In February 2015, Maine saw an unusually high amount of carbon monoxide poisoning cases due to high snow banks blocking vents alongside homes.
“I know there will be an argument of cost involved, but it simply comes down to it is going to save a life,” said Democratic State Senator David Dutremble of Biddeford, who is also a Lieutenant Firefighter and spoke in favor of the bill during the public hearing. “As someone who is a first responder to many of these cases, this is the right thing to do.”
During the public hearing, officials from landlord associations, Maine Fire Chiefs Association, Maine Fire Commission, and local fire departments spoke in support of the bill. No one spoke against the bill.
The measure will now go on for further consideration by the Senate in the coming days.