New law requires carbon monoxide detectors

Under an Oregon law that takes effect Friday, all new and remodeled homes that have a potential source of carbon monoxide must have a carbon monoxide detector.

Sources of carbon monoxide include attached garages, heaters, fireplaces, furnaces and appliances that burn coal, wood, gasoline, natural gas, propane, oil and charcoal. When breathed, carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in the blood stream, causing damage to vital organs and flu-like symptoms within a short time.

The 2009 Lofgren and Zander Memorial Act, named for two former Oregonians who died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in 2002, has several parts that regulate the use of carbon monoxide alarms. The first round of regulation, which took effect in July, required landlords entering into new rental agreements to furnish a carbon monoxide alarm in dwellings that had potential sources of carbon monoxide.

Starting Friday, new or remodeled dwellings, which include houses, apartments, hotel rooms and even assisted living facilities, will be required to include the detectors. The law will apply to any home that undergoes renovation that requires a building permit. It also will apply to homes with attached garages that could result in carbon monoxide buildup in the home.

Medford fire inspector Derek Zwagerman said that while carbon monoxide deaths are not frequent, close calls are more common, and detection of carbon monoxide is impossible without a detector.

"It's something you can't see or smell and it can kill you," he said.

"You can get it through vehicle combustion in a garage not venting or a gas-fire appliance not venting. It may not happen very often, but it happens often enough."

Zwagerman said while existing homes, owned or under pre-existing lease agreements, aren't required to have the detectors, fire officials recommend them for all homes.

"It's basically just another safeguard for your family and they even make the units that include the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide" detector, he said.

Carbon monoxide detectors cost between $15 and $75 depending on the model.

— Buffy Pollock

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