Two people have died, and 2 others are hospitalized this morning, apparently due to carbon monoxide poisoning, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Chicago CO Ordinance
Chicago requires that all homes and apartment buildings have working carbon monoxide detectors (see city page with details), and on all my home inspections, we look to make sure they’re installed and in working order.
In 2007, Illinois passed the Carbon Monoxide Law:
Effective January 1, 2007, every Illinois home is required to have at least one carbon monoxide alarm in an operating condition within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes. Homes that do not rely on the burning of fuel for heat, ventilation or hot water; are not connected to a garage; and are not near a source of carbon monoxide (as determined by the local building commissioner) are not required to install carbon monoxide detectors. (Public Act 94-741)
Causes of CO Poisoning
According to the University of Chicago, non-vented heaters using kerosene or gas are the most common cause of carbon monoxide deaths. Other potential causes include:
- malfunctioning cooking appliances
- tobacco smoke
- clogged chimney
- auto exhaust
- malfunctioning water heater
- malfunctioning oil, wood, gas or coal furnaces
- malfunctioning gas clothes dryer
- wood burning fireplace, decorative fireplace, gas log burner, or any unvented space heater
- appliances in cabins or campers, barbecue grills, lack of adequate ventilation, pool/spa heaters, ceiling-mounted heating units
Most of the deaths occur in winter.
Preventing CO Poisoning
By implementing routine home care procedures, we can all protect ourselves against carbon monoxide.
1. Check your carbon monoxide detectors today! If they’re not working, check the batteries, and get new ones if necessary.
2. Clean out your clothes dryer
3. Get your chimney cleaned
4. Do not use space heaters unless they’re properly vented.
5. Have annual check-ups for your boiler, furnace, hot water heaters.
The Illinois Dept of Health has other great suggestions for staying safe (see their article). Make it a habit to check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors every spring and fall when we switch back and forth from Daylight Savings Time. Why then? No particular reason – it’s just a good habit to have!