Lansing, MI- A Michigan law requiring carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in new homes will take effect Monday and will be enforceable starting Dec. 1.
The Overbeck family, whose parents died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their Northern Michigan retirement home six years ago, were at the State Capitol today for Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s ceremonial signing of the legislation.
A second law also signed by the governor will require a carbon monoxide alarm in every hotel room in the state.
“We have made it our mission to make sure this doesn’t happen to another Michigan family,” said Liz Overbeck, 47, of Redondo Beach, Calif. “My mother and dad would be so proud.”
Patty and Gene Overbeck died in their home overlooking Elk Lake in Antrim County when, after returning from a shopping trip, Patty accidentally left her car running in the garage. Carbon monoxide circulated throughout the house, and the couple died within hours.
Rep. Gary McDowell, D-Rudyard, named his bill “The Overbeck Law.”
“Because of what happened to you, because of what you suffered, you have made a difference,” McDowell told family members.
The Overbecks now will take their crusade to other states. Thirteen states have similar laws.
“We started in Michigan. This is our first victory,” said Katie Overbeck, 43, of Orange County, Calif.
The Overbecks said they were met with opposition from the building industry, which resisted a mandate that will add cost to the construction of a house. Each carbon monoxide smoke detector costs $30 to $50.
The family worked with Steve Biggs, chairman of Town & Country Cedar Homes, which built the Overbecks’ retirement home, and Sandy O’Niel, whose family also was a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“We’re called out to carbon monoxide emergencies every year where families did not know they could protect themselves with a simple, inexpensive
alarm,” said Chief Tom Cochran of the Lansing Fire Department. He said it’s recommended that alarms be installed within 10 feet of the main sleeping area.
First Alert, a home safety products company, has donated 500 carbon monoxide alarms to low-income families in the state, which will be distributed by the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Registered Nurses Association through local health departments.