Fort Collins, CO – During the past year, we have read about several incidents where carbon monoxide poisoning led to the tragic deaths of individuals and entire families.

While we mourn the losses, something positive has come out of these tragedies.

Our legislators have passed HB 09-1091, which becomes law July 1. This law will help reduce carbon monoxide poisoning deaths by requiring carbon monoxide alarms in dwellings. Before discussing what this law will entail, it is important to basically understand what carbon monoxide is and why it is so dangerous.

Carbon monoxide is a gas resulting from the combustion of any fuel. It is highly toxic in concentrations and can easily lead to death. Carbon monoxide is odorless, invisible and approximately the same weight as air so it can permeate your home.

Most deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning occur when the person is sleeping.

Carbon monoxide is generated by any device that burns fuel, including furnaces, gas fireplaces, wood fireplaces, wood stoves, gas ranges, gas water heaters, automobile engines and small engines such as on lawn mowers or gas trimmers. In the case of furnaces, fireplaces, stoves and water heaters, ducting and chimneys are designed to allow carbon monoxide, smoke and other gases to escape the living space into the outside air and avoid a dangerous situation.

If this escape path is blocked or altered in some other way, these gases can vent inside the home and create a dangerous situation. Carbon monoxide alarms will detect this danger and sound an alert.

House Bill 09-1091 requirements include the following:

> Applies to any dwelling using any fuel-fired heater or appliance or with an attached garage

> Compliance required upon sale of home or tenant turnover or new construction

> Battery or AC-powered or combination alarms for existing dwellings

> Plug-in type alarms must not be on a switched outlet

> Hardwired AC powered for new construction

> Alarm needed within 15 feet of each legal sleeping room

> Local codes may specify additional or more stringent requirements

In addition to installing carbon monoxide detectors, homeowners should have their furnaces inspected annually to ensure the furnace is not allowing carbon monoxide into the living space. Other appliances should not be left burning unattended or when sleeping. Only appliances approved for indoor use should be used in your home. Be particularly careful about idling car engines, lawn more engines and heaters in the garage.

With modern appliances and furnaces and a few simple precautions, your home will be carbon monoxide-free. There is no need for concern. The likelihood of a dangerous condition is extremely small. Carbon monoxide alarms, like smoke alarms, are there in case something abnormal happens.

Even if you are not selling your home, buying a home or about to otherwise make a move, take action today and install carbon monoxide alarms. Don’t forget to change smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries at least once per year.