Kirsti Marohn, St Cloud Times
ST. PAUL – More than eight years after two children died of carbon monoxide poisoning in their Kimball home, a state lawmaker is proposing that all homes be required to have carbon monoxide alarms.
Rep. Doug Stang, a Republican from Cold Spring, introduced the bill Thursday. His district includes Kimball. With only a few days remaining in the 2004 session, Stang said he knows the bill won’t go anywhere this year. But he hopes it gets attention next year. “We dropped it in now to raise awareness,” Stang said. “I think we need to have the discussion.”
On Jan. 5, 1996, 4-year-old Nicholas Burt and 1-year-old Zachary Burt died from the colorless, odorless gas as they slept in their home on School Section Lake. Their parents, Todd and Cheryl Burt, and older brother Ryan escaped. Cheryl Burt, who now lives in Rochester, has pushed for laws in several states requiring carbon monoxide alarms. She has made public service announcements warning people to install the alarms in their homes. “Just because it’s not happening every day, people think, ‘Well, it’s not that big of a deal,'” Burt said. “What they don’t realize is it is. It just has to happen once and … you die.”
Burt joined forces with Dave Griggs, grandfather of a 3-year-old girl who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in March near Rochester. The pair says a law requiring alarms in every home will save lives. “There are people who will not protect themselves or are skeptics of anything,” Burt said. “Regardless of if they’re skeptics or not, we’re going to try to save them.” Todd Burt said Stang’s bill is welcome news, although he wishes it would have come sooner. The law requires smoke alarms, he noted, although smoke can be detected by its smell. “With carbon monoxide, it’s nondetectable,” he said. “You don’t have an idea it’s there until too late.”
Stang’s bill would require new single- and multifamily dwellings to have carbon monoxide alarms installed on each level and within 10 feet of each bedroom by Jan. 1, 2006. Existing homes and apartments would be required to have alarms by Aug. 1, 2007. Stang acknowledged his bill is a mandate that could push up housing costs.