More than two million alarms installed seven years ago in New York City will likely need replacement. In October, the grace period for the city’s new carbon monoxide (CO) legislation ends, requiring replacement of all CO alarms that have exceeded their useful life.
Local Law 75, which went into effect on April 25, requires not only replacement of those alarms that have exceeded the manufacturer’s suggested useful life or expiration, but it also requires all newly installed CO alarms to have an audible signal that alerts residents when they expire.
“Carbon monoxide is a poisonous – and potentially fatal – gas that can only be detected by specially-designed sensing devices, which must be properly maintained and replaced over time,” said Deborah Hanson, director of external affairs for First Alert, a leader in residential fire and CO protection. “We applaud the City of New York for taking this important step in helping ensure the safety of its residents.”
Under the new law, owners of Class A dwellings – which include single-family homes, apartments, condominiums and other spaces intended for permanent inhabitance – must replace the CO alarms required by city and state building codes when the alarms reach the end of the manufacturer’s suggested useful life or expire – an average of five to seven years. Therefore, property owners who complied with Local Law 7 in 2004 – which required CO alarms to be installed in all New York City dwellings with fossil-fuel-burning equipment – will most likely now need to replace those alarms.
Known as the “silent killer,” CO poisoning is the number one cause of accidental poisoning in the United States – responsible for an average of 450 deaths and more than 20,000 emergency room visits each year. CO poisoning is notoriously difficult to diagnose – often until it’s too late. The symptoms mimic those of many other illnesses and include nausea, headaches, dizziness, weakness, chest pain and vomiting. In more severe poisoning cases, people may experience disorientation or unconsciousness, or suffer long-term neurological disabilities, cardiorespiratory failure or death.
CO sources may include, but are not limited to, heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, generators, appliances or cooking devices using coal, wood, petroleum products or other fuels emitting CO as a by-product of combustion.
More than a dozen states, including New York, have enacted laws in recent years to protect people from CO poisoning.
“As always, New York remains a ‘trendsetter,’ as more and more lawmakers are waking up to the fact that their constituents are likely under-protected from the dangers of CO,” Hanson said. “The momentum behind Local Law 75 is promising and will certainly help bring an end to the tragic, and yet so easily preventable, cases of carbon monoxide poisonings we see every year.”
For more detail on Local Law 75, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/dob/downloads/pdf/ll75of2011.pdf. More information on its enforcement and implementation can be found on the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development website at http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/homeowners/carbon_monoxide.shtml.