Carbon Monoxide Awareness

January is National Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month. Carbon monoxide claims more lives during the winter months than any other time of the year. In the winter, the threat of carbon monoxide heightens because many people use alternative heating sources to provide warmth that they might not use other times of the year.

On February 2010, Amanda’s Law went into effect in New York State. Amanda’s Law is named after a West Seneca teenager, Amanda Hansen, who lost her life due to a carbon monoxide leak from a defective boiler while sleeping at a friend’s house in January 2009. The law now requires carbon monoxide detectors in most homes. To comply with Amanda’s Law, a minimum of one carbon monoxide detector must be installed in homes where there is a carbon monoxide source, defined as any appliance or system that may emit carbon monoxide, such as a fireplace, furnace, or a building with an attached garage or other motor vehicle related occupancies.

Since Amanda’s Law was put into effect, Attorney William Mattar has created an awareness campaign to educate New York State residents on the dangers of carbon monoxide and how to prevent exposures.

What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

Carbon monoxide or CO, is a toxic, colorless and odorless gas produced by gasoline, natural gas, wood, propane, charcoal or another fuel. Carbon monoxide cannot be detected without an alarm. Breathing in high levels of carbon monoxide causes CO poisoning, which can lead to severe illness or death within minutes.

Carbon monoxide is found in the fumes of:

  • cars or trucks
  • small engines
  • stoves
  • lanterns
  • generators
  • grills
  • fireplaces
  • gas ranges
  • furnaces
  • water heaters

Carbon monoxide poisoning may occur because of undetected holes in gas lines, improperly installed gas appliances, defective parts used to install gas appliances and other defects that may lead to gas or carbon monoxide leaks. Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, but you can prevent a life threatening exposure by installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen gradually or immediately. Without a carbon monoxide alarm in your home, it becomes very hard to detect a CO leak. Sometimes family members may begin to feel ill when a slight CO leak starts in the home. If not fixed within days, the leak will expand and become fatal. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often described as flu-like, and if you inhale too much CO, it can make you pass out, eventually becoming fatal. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Upset Stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Chest Pain
  • Confusion

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning in your home and are displaying any of the symptoms listed above, seek immediate medical attention now.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.

Young children process carbon monoxide differently than adults, which may cause them to experience more severe side effects more quickly. In 2017, poison control centers reported 3,248 cases of carbon monoxide exposure in children 19 and under, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

At William Mattar law offices, we want our neighbors to stay safe. By installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home, you are taking life saving measures to protect you and your family against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Preventing a Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, but infants, the elderly and people with chronic heart problems or breathing problems are more prone to illness or death. Carbon monoxide does not discriminate, and Attorney William Mattar would like everyone to take the appropriate steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Here are some CO poisoning prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Install a battery operated or battery backup CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout. This detector can tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home in addition to alarming. Replace your CO detector every five years.
  • Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO build up inside your home or cabin.
  • Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances, such as a water heater, should go up slightly as they go towards outdoors. This prevents CO from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.

If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, leave the home immediately and call 9-1-1.

When there is a lot of snow, especially in the winter months, please remember to keep your furnace’s intake and exhaust clear. Having snow blocking the intake and exhaust area could completely shut off your furnace or allow carbon monoxide to enter your home. If your home has an attached garage or a standalone garage where vehicles or lawnmowers are stored, always remember to open the overhead door prior to starting the motor.

William Mattar has put together a list of important tips to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide this winter.

Download Our CO Checklist

Helping Our Neighbors: Our Firm in Action

Since 2011, William Mattar law offices has been educating communities about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Because of this awareness campaign, a William Mattar employee was able to save a local family from a potentially fatal situation.

In the past, we have supported community programs that have distributed many carbon monoxide detectors. Our car crash attorneys have worked hard to raise carbon monoxide awareness and encourage everyone to install, test and/or replace carbon monoxide current detectors.